Andrew (perspectivism) wrote,

Michael Duff & Greg Swann debate how tough winters inspired commercial culture!

...but I bet they don't know it yet.

Peoples from nearer the equator tend to be more hot-tempered. Greg Swann speculates on why:

The West I praise is not the West of the ancients, but rather the West we have inherited from the ancients and improved upon by vast degrees. [...] The Germanic culture that so influenced the West was the Romanized Germanic culture of the late Middle Ages and beyond. It is the Germanic culture that became Austrian and Nordic and French and English culture, the transnational bourgeois culture that ultimately became American culture.

It was and is [...] a culture of capital and commerce and conciliation. The Germans and Gauls slain and exiled and conquered by Marius and Sulla and Caesar were Warriors. The Germans of Mozart's Vienna or the Frankish Gauls of Hugo's Paris were Burghers. What accounts for the difference? Why were the people of Northern Europe so much like Cain at a time when the people of Southern Europe were still deeply committed to Abel, as was the rest of the Mediterranean and the Middle East?

I think there is a very simple answer: The Germans and Gauls [...] had to find a way to live indoors through the Winter without killing each other. Along the Mediterranean and further south, bickering friends or brothers or spouses could storm out of the house, expressing murderous rage without actually--or at least often--committing murder. But in the formerly Roman territories that came to be occupied by the Germanic tribes, to indulge a murderous anger in Winter was either to commit or to fall victim to murder. The Bourgeois Manners we can afford to deride today, wallowing in our vast energy wealth, evolved to divert and deflect and sublimate the passionate emotions that people in warmer climates were more safely able to express. (GSS)
I certainly like Greg's just-so-story there, and I think it in part explains the coolness of northern temperaments.

Michael really hits closer to the core though:
The permanent solution to terrorism is to change the culture of the Middle East. [...] I think we need to move the Middle East from resource-based wealth, which is easy to monopolize, to labor-based wealth that depends on trade and cooperation. If it works, we'll be sitting here again in 50 years, bitching about these Iranians who are taking our jobs. (MD)
Before the Industrial Age, living in Northern Europe was hard. Those harsh conditions demanded more constantly productive cooperation & creativity than in Italy or Greece. The only tribal cultures that flourished in Northern Europe were the ones that consistently generated the heaps of labor-based wealth needed to sustain through bad winters. Northerners had to develop amazing systems to either pillage like the Vikings (not many) or save like the Swiss (most).
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