07 January 2012

A German by Any Other Name...

The Maastricht treaty, indeed the whole idea of the E.U., is based on the principle that 'People are people.' Also known as the Late Twentieth Century Delusion.  As we have seen, the Think-Tankers who cook up international policy are in utter thrall to it.  No reason, say they, why a semiconductor industry such as flourishes in Japan couldn't do the same in Angola.  No reason at all.  All that's missing are the right incentives, the right institutions, the right...

...Shhh. Don't say 'people.' Crimethink.

It has become obvious that the Eurozone will survive in present form only if the Germans keep paying the debts of the Greeks.  Talk of new 'institutions' and 'treaties and 'incentives' is silly.  The incentives and treaties and institutions have been in place for ten years; they have not yet been able to turn Greeks into Germans.  Nor will they.

Why not?  What makes a German a German, and a Greek a Greek?  Couldn't we switch out the populations of these two countries and just assume that Greek-Germany and German-Greece would continue to function as they always have?

*               *               *

Though it has become terribly unfashionable, there is little as satisfying as reading old-time authors' stout observations of other peoples, untouched by today's feminized hive-mind and its cries to not hurt anyone's feelings.  It was once taken for granted that a German was not a Greek.  Would today's Eurozone decision-makers come back to this distant wisdom, they might yet come up with some policy worth the name.

So-- a 2012 currency zone containing both a Germany and a Greece will not function, and we need writers from before the Wars to give us a hint as to why:

Albert Gehring, music enthusiast and writer, in 1908 fancied putting to paper the 'Distinguishing Traits of the Graeco-Latins and Teutons':

Though resembling one another in many respects when compared with non-Aryan peoples, these races exhibit striking differences of character and institutions when contrasted inter se. The Greeks and Latins are talkative, vivacious, and quick in their actions, the English and Germans taciturn and deliberative. The latter are passionate lovers of nature, the former evince but little enthusiasm for the glories of Pan.

Indeed, it was once acceptable to notice difference, and sweeping generalizations were understood to be just that-- a broad brush, hiding many exceptions. 

Gehring was full of musings, and his goal was ambitious:

Romanticism, classicism, religiousness, gaiety, depth of thought, are complex qualities, which, like the concrete phenomena of material nature, must be reduced to simpler factors. Is it not possible to discover a few elementary distinctions, on which many or most of the picturesque differences between Græco-Latin and Germanic life may be found to rest? [...]  So it is conceivable that the vast differences in national activities and institutions are the result of insignificant divergences of mental structure.

He was convinced the Teutonic mind was truly different:

Just as the Teuton has a greater wealth of material presented to him in his dramas, cathedrals, and musical compositions, so his mind is normally, in everyday life, filled with a larger and more involved number of objects.  Since, however, it is possible for only one, or at most very few things, to stand forth with precision in the foreground of attention, it follows that we must be conscious of all others in a vague, indefinite way. These others form a "penumbra" or "fringe" around the foremost objects of attention. The statement, therefore, that the Germanic mind grasps more objects than the Græco-Latin, might better be put, that it has a richer "fringe."

Plausible?  Perhaps, perhaps not.

The Germanic mind, then, is characterised by a more prominent "fringe" than the Græco-Latin. It delights in the unresolved, mysterious residues of experience, in the buzzing backgrounds, the contrapuntal play of side-theme and pedal point. The Græco-Latin mind, on the contrary, loves clearness and precision. The world which it reflects is plotted off in neat conceptual charts. It progresses along a straight line, in a single dimension; the Teuton's advance, on the other hand, is broad and bi-dimensional, -- harmonic and contrapuntal rather than melodic.

Only  a theory.  His evidence?:

There is a deliberation and hesitation about the actions of Germanic people which contrasts sharply with the vivaciousness of their southern cousins. The peasant from the north may stare at you vacantly before he answers your question. Thought translates itself into motor results but slowly; often, indeed, there are no results at all. Hamlet, with his indecision and vacillation, is a type of this species of mind. The fiery Tybalt from Romeo and Juliet, on the other hand, represents a class that is common among Latin races -- lively, quick-tempered, ebullient individuals.
Accompanying the slowness of the Teutons, we meet with a certain tenacity and persistency of effort. The people of this race are patient, plodding, persevering. Hence the great material results they have achieved.

The Germanic races manifest a tendency toward brooding and melancholy. The English are known as hypochondriacs; no nation bemoans so many suicides as the Germans.

And what of religious temperament?

We have already remarked that the Græco-Latins are inclined to be worldly, while the Teutons exhibit a religious bias. The Greeks were children of the moment. They believed in an after-life, to be sure, but the belief made little impression on their conduct. The occurrences of the day, their mundane fortunes, exhausted their thoughts and left but little room for hopes or fears regarding an unseen existence. The Latin races resemble the Greeks when contrasted with the nations from the north. It was among the latter that the great religious struggles of the Reformation originated. Wycliffe, Luther, and Zwingli were Teutons. Mysticism also finds its home in the north, the Latins inclining toward rationalism.
A pronounced ethical and religious tone characterises Germanic literature: Milton, Schiller, and Wordsworth bear witness, and in Puritan New England it forms the keynote, stamping the writings of Emerson, Whittier, Lowell, Hawthorne, and most of their numerous followers.

He even comments on their style of homes:

Germanic taciturnity and love of nature may account in part for the isolated dwellings in the north, for the country-life of the English nobility, and the lonely habits of German scholars;

Tacitus' 'Germania' (1st century AD) comes to mind:

It is well known that the nations of Germany have not cities, and that they do not even tolerate closely contiguous dwellings. They live scattered and apart, just as a spring, a meadow, or a wood has attracted them. Their village they do not arrange in our fashion, with the buildings connected and joined together, but every person surrounds his dwelling with an open space, either as a precaution against the disasters of fire, or because they do not know how to build.

Gehring again:

[...] the opposite tendencies among the Græco-Latins would serve to explain their abhorrence of solitude, their early building of cities, the social habits of their philosophers, and, as mentioned, their congregation in gymnasiums and salons.

He goes much further:

The celerity of action in the south throws light on the frequency of assassination in Latin countries; it enables us to understand the enthusiastic support received by victorious generals and the speedy disgrace awaiting defeated ones; it explains many episodes in the revolution of 1789, and furnishes the reason for the general instability of governments among the Romance races.

Gehring remarks upon essential differences, a vital exercise, but what of the character traits which count for policy-makers today?  Amusing as may be the thoughts of ethnographers of yore, now we demand figures.  Statistics.  Empiricism.  So another way to ask the question, What is a German? is to look at self-reported values surveys.  Geert Hofstede was a 20th-century pioneer in such studies, but we far prefer his successors, the GLOBE study team under Robert J. House at the Wharton School (data wave taken in the 1990s).  A sampling [Germanics in bright blue, Anglos in purple, Nordics in dark blue, Mediterraneans in red, East Asians in light green]:

Future time orientation, as measured by the GLOBE study and the Wang et al. study:

The difference between In-group Collectivism levels and Societal Collectivism levels, according to GLOBE:

The levels of Uncertainty Avoidance (strong preference for rules and order) and Performance Orientation (strong drive to succeed), again from the GLOBE study:

Those who prefer the empirical to the anecdotal can of course find much more:

GDP per capita,

IQ levels,

Perceived corruption levels,

Democracy index,

Human development index,

Civic engagement,

World Values Survey,

Traditional family systems,

and a host of other indicators that may or may not help us understand why a German is not a Greek.  In this blog's opinion, the key character traits preventing these two peoples from functioning in the same monetary union would be their levels of  future-time orientation, commonweal-orientation, and work-esteeming, which the careful eye will be able to pick apart from the indicators given thus far.

But what interest for policy makers?

To embark on a currency union with a medley of sovereign states is no small thing.  If all members behave rather as we do, it can work.  But one doesn't let featherweights play against heavyweights for a reason.  Among the other destruction it has wrought, the Late Twentieth Century Delusion's mantra 'People are people' is now on the verge of throwing Europe into its worst crisis in sixty years.

A European by any other name... can be a Greek.  Or a German.  But he cannot be both.

Previously:  More Able and Less Able,  


Remnant said...

It would interesting to see the results on future time orientation that split Italy into north and south. The numbers would look very different.

M.G. said...

Indeed, I feel it's one of the biggest flaws with self-reported values surveys. They rarely give regional-level breakdowns. Just looking at the north / south Italian data we gathered here, your assumption seems very likely to be true.

Remnant said...

In a way its similar to the reports that look at test scores at the US as a whole and declare "the US education system is failing our children: we aren't even as good as [pick your country]." Of course, as Steve Sailer has discsused in detail, if you break the scores out by race / country of origin, well, the US scores look very similar to those of the children in the actual country of origin. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

What Remnant said is very true.

The US education is not failing us in the whitopias. Whenever Eurosocialists sneer at the US for low achievement, you kbow they are ignoring the influence of our low class minorities.
Why is thr US education system "failing"?
It is because of the low-class blacks and hispanics.
Black schools with comitted parents though can succes adequately.
Messmer School, in Milwaukee, has medium to high achieving black students. Alpha male and powerful black females can be the people to set up the structure to lift the black race to decent achievement. There are a small number of blacks who are even exceptional.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting. I added my take at hbdchick's but i'll repeat it here.

The two that jump out are in-group and social collectivsm which i'd call clan-orientation (clannishness) and copy your commonweal-orientation. I think it illustrates the two ways europeans and east asians solved the economies of scale problem.

1) People have a natural tendency to inbreed around the 1st / 2nd cousin level because it provides the benefits of small group cohesion.

2) The flipside of small group cohesion is clannishness - distrust towards and unwillingness to cooperate with other clan-groups.

3) Therefore clannishness hinders national scale cooperation.

4) National scale cooperation can potentially provide very large economies of scale which outweigh the benefits of clannishness.

How to get from 1 to 4?

Europeans, particularly northern europeans did it through outbreeding.

East Asians did it through getting to high-density living earlier (or at least more contiguously) and gradually selecting for traits that outweigh the clannishness...

i.e. the clannishness is still there underneath, hence corruption which i think is a proxy metric for clannishness...

through some other mechanic. I'd suggest maybe conscientousness in the sense of conformity to cultural norms set by the elites i.e. submission to the authority of the Confucian father-parent.

Something like that.

Anonymous said...

Future time orientation.

My take is

FTO = IQ + Trust

I imagine most cultures will have an expression like: "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."

However it's not true if you have both a high IQ and a high trust population. If you have both brains and trust people can cooperate to catch the ones in the bush.

Clannishness reduces trust hence why the east asians are lower than the north europeans on this metric.

The outcome of lower east asian individual (or clan) FTO vis a vis southern europeans is reduced by higher obedience to state level FTO?


Uncertainty avoidance (rules and order)

I think this may be a function of relative situations i.e. South Koreans may want the exact same level of rules and order as the Swiss but the South Koreans currently have much more than they want and the Swiss not quite enough?


no clear view on performance orientation

i think clannishness would hinder this i.e. not wanting to individually break away from the clan. maybe this is another thing outweighed by confucican conscientousness.

M.G. said...

My take is FTO = IQ + Trust

That's interesting. I'd always assumed FTO would be a cold-latitude trait first and foremost, don't plan for winter = don't live to reproduce. But then the trust element could have co-evolved with that: Group cooperation was necessary for the individual to survive through the winter, not so in the tropics?

no clear view on performance orientation...i think clannishness would hinder this i.e. not wanting to individually break away from the clan.

Perhaps, but by the same token, the Confucian exam culture of academic excellence + enormous need to make your family proud (Tiger Mother--modern manifestation) could maybe also have pushed for a greater need to distinguish oneself.

True, though, that in other clannic cultures I've read about, like George Foster's work on Mexican peasants, what you say prevails--no one wants to 'stand out' or create jealousy and so individual achievement is actively discouraged.

Anonymous said...

"My take is FTO = IQ + Trust"

"That's interesting. I'd always assumed FTO would be a cold-latitude trait first and foremost"

Yes me too, my take was based on the positions in the lists with the east asians low down. I'd assumed the opposite.

I've been working on the simple assumption of

IQ ~ latitude ~ winter preparations

with FTO as a simple proxy for IQ

however seeing the list and combining it with some comments i've seen on earlier posts from people from southern and eastern europe i now wonder. their comments were along the lines of "you have to grab what you can when you can" so i was thinking in a low-trust environment maybe the individual high IQ response is the exact opposite of the assumption?

high trust environment: FTO ~ IQ
low trust environment: FTO ~ 1/IQ

(it's a bit like prison. in a normal environment the high IQ response is to be peaceable and if otherwise at least not be seen. in a prison environment under certain cirumstances the high IQ response is to be spectacularly vicious at the earliest opportunity in as public a way as possible.)

however, if you have a powerful state maybe it can outweigh that instinct via conscientousness?

i'm not clear on it but that was my first thought from looking at the list


"Perhaps, but by the same token, the Confucian exam culture of academic excellence...clannic cultures...no one wants to 'stand out' or create jealousy"

Yes i think it may all follow the same pattern. China didn't overcome clannish tendencies by getting rid of the clannishness it over-rides those tendencies with a cultural prescription made possible by conscientousness.

This may explain the shifting positioning in the lists vis a vis northern and southern europe. When the clannish tendencies are dominant they group with the south and otherwise the north.

Although Korea and Japan have apparently been outbreeding more since the 1960s and China since the 1980s so if the basic consanquinity theory is correct they're also undergoing a transition.

hbd chick said...

the "uncertainty avoidance/strong preference for rules and order" (Ordnung!) figures are fantastic! i've been wanting to see that quantified for years. that preference for Ordnung -- along with the preference for everyone to conform within the group -- is just simply fascinating to me.

i come from an ethnic background low on that Ordnung scale, but i've spent a lot of time (a LOT), both in childhood and as an adult, around peoples high on the scale (certain ethnicities in the midwest), and the conformity just drives me crazy! (~_^) just rubs me, on a personal level, the wrong way.

at the same time, i look upon it with admiration because i can see -- logically -- how well it works -- probably especially when it goes along with high average iq. if everyone conforms, everything works pretty well.

too much following of the rules can, of course, stifle creativity. the english (historically) seem to have stumbled upon just the right mix of some Ordnung with a good dose of individuality in order to have lots of innovative individuals. of course, the germans are no slackers, either. high average iq and a good work ethic will get you far in life.


M.G. said...

the conformity just drives me crazy! (~_^) just rubs me, on a personal level, the wrong way.

Even worse, I'm a hybrid of both German and Celtic. All my life I've had a strong respect for order while at the same time an extremely intense (maybe unhealthily so) disdain for authority. This push-and-pull between rule-obeying and rebelliousness used to drive me batty, but learning about ethno-cultural traits has made me just take it for what it is.

the english (historically) seem to have stumbled upon just the right mix of some Ordnung with a good dose of individuality

Exactly, this is the conclusion I've come to as well. Their particular Celtic / Germanic mix was a powerful cocktail that ended up conquering a large chunk of the planet, and the government system they created is today aspired to by billions of people. Truly one of history's fascinating ethnic groups. (Pity they no longer see themselves that way.)

hbd chick said...

@m.g. - "All my life I've had a strong respect for order while at the same time an extremely intense (maybe unhealthily so) disdain for authority. This push-and-pull between rule-obeying and rebelliousness used to drive me batty, but learning about ethno-cultural traits has made me just take it for what it is."

heh. (^_^) that's funny! -- but i can see how it could be a little annoying! (~_^) i'm a bit of mix, but not at all half-and-half -- there's a touch of germanic from my father's side of the family, but otherwise we're mostly one of those groups scoring low on your "uncertainty avoidance" table. (~_^)

@m.g. - "Even worse, I'm a hybrid of both German and Celtic."

maybe france is a good compromise? living amongst the celto-gaulish franks? (^_^)