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Why the West Rules ~ For Now (Read 17063 times)
polite_gandalf
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Re: Why the West Rules ~ For Now
Reply #15 - Jan 29th, 2015 at 4:48pm
 
Apologies for the necro-post, but FD requested that I take up a (slightly) related discussion in the Islam forum in this thread. So here goes...

FD's thesis:

freediver wrote on Jan 28th, 2015 at 8:02am:
The Romans were richer and had a bigger economy. Atmospheric records (and other evidence) show significant mining and smelting happening. The levels did not return to these until after the industrial revolution started. It's the same with ship wrecks, which are an indicator of sea trade, urbanisation, etc. Human development indices show a significant rise and fall for the Roman Empire. The Caliphate does not even register. For all the potential, it produced almost nothing. It froze societies in time.


After prodding him for evidence FD referred back to this thread, and specifically Morris's social development scale posted in the OP.

Firstly, the caliphate most definitely does register - Morris bases his measures of western social development according to the energy consumption of the most productive "cores" of the western world at the time. During most of the period 700-1300, the western "core" was dominated by the islamic near east around Egypt and Syria/Iraq. The figure he arrived at was a per-capita energy consumption peak of around 25-26 thousand kcal/cap/day, which was actually the greatest energy consumption the western world had seen besides the Roman peak of around 30 thousand kcal/cap/day.

A couple of points to be made about this: Roman consumption started from an already very high base - for example Ancient Greek energy consumption had already peaked at around 20-25 kcal/cap/day by the 4th century BCE. Roman society had a definite advantage in leveraging off these already high consumption rates. Morris's scale illustrates this - where the consumption rise that the Romans rode on was in full swing long before the Roman empire emerged. The graph clearly shows that this rise was the most dramatic in the west up to that time. Rome also had the advantage of controlling the entire Mediterranean basin, an obviously massive hub for trading.

The islamic world in contrast literally started from scratch in the nomadic and resource barren arabic peninsula. But even more significantly is to understand the legacy that the Islamic conquerers were left with in the areas they expanded into. This is documented in Morris's social development timeline - where the west faced a catastrophic consumption decline in the centuries between Rome's peak and the rise of Islam. This period of migration, invasion, plagues and general social unrest is well documented elsewhere, but suffice to say, whereas the Romans expanded at a time when the conquered areas were increasing energy consumption, the muslims expanded into areas that were in catastrophic decline. For example one of the earliest significant conquest for the muslims was the once great and prosperous city of Jerusalem - which was a shell of its former self as a result of being decimated by the long war between Byzantium and Persia. In many areas the Islamic empire had to literally start from scratch - as they did with the city of Baghdad, which rapidly became one of the largest cities of the world - if not the largest - as well as a major cultural hub. Indeed the social and educational advances seen in the Islamic Empire cannot be overstated - literacy rates were the highest the world had ever seen, and life expectancy rose from around 25-30 during Roman and Christian Europe, to over 35 under Islam's rule (thats all people, muslim and non-muslim).

This is what FD describes as a society that "does not even register. For all the potential, it produced almost nothing. It froze societies in time".  Cheesy
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Re: Why the West Rules ~ For Now
Reply #16 - Feb 1st, 2015 at 3:01pm
 
Gandalf's "objective" reinterpretation of history:
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Re: Why the West Rules ~ For Now
Reply #17 - Feb 1st, 2015 at 4:24pm
 
This is FD's civilization that, in his words, "does not even register" and "produced almost nothing"

economic centre's of the western world, based on energy output:

700 CE: Egypt (NE Africa), Syria-Iraq (SW Asia)
800 CE: Egypt (NE Africa), Syria-Iraq (SW Asia)
900 CE: Egypt (NE Africa), Spain (SW Europe)

(source: http://www.ianmorris.org/docs/social-development.pdf)

Peak output during this time was around 25-26 thousand kcal/cap/day second only to the peak of the Roman Empire of arounc 30 thousand kcal/cap/day. The same civilization that increased the life expectancy as well as literacy rates to unprecedented levels.

I repeat, this is the civiliziation that FD claims "does not even register" and "produced almost nothing"
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Re: Why the West Rules ~ For Now
Reply #18 - Feb 1st, 2015 at 4:29pm
 
By "second only" Gandalf means that it was lower than it had been in the west for about 1000 years. From the graph above it looks like the Chinese were also scoring higher at that time. When you are worse than the previous civilisation, that is a step backwards, not forwards.

What Gandalf describes as the greatest empire of all time was actually an unusually low point in human development in the west, and it's hangover is still dragging down the middle east.
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Re: Why the West Rules ~ For Now
Reply #19 - Feb 1st, 2015 at 5:49pm
 
freediver wrote on Feb 1st, 2015 at 4:29pm:
By "second only" Gandalf means that it was lower than it had been in the west for about 1000 years.


According to Morris's social development scale, the lowest point in about 1000 years was reached around the 6th and 7th centuries - ie the century or two immediately before Islam emerged. This chaotic period is well documented as the period of Roman decline and Germanic and slavic migrations. It was also the time the Persians and the Eastern Romans were tearing much of eastern civilization apart. The effect it had can easily be seen by Morris's 'organization' rating - where it plunged from 4.23 in 500 AD to 1.17 in 600 AD. This is populations being ravaged and cities being devastated by mass migrations, plague and war. This is the legacy the Islamic empire was left with - as opposed to the rapidly rising economic inertia that the Romans were left with.

But then for 3 centuries at least, the islamic world became the economic centres of the western world - significantly increasing all components of Morris's social development scale. They also increased literacy and life expectancy rates to unprecedented levels - a point FD continues to ignore.

So, in summary, the world according to FD: the greatest empire on earth emerges, massively lifts economic prosperity to the greatest ever levels, then collapses and sees a correspondingly catastrophic crash in economic activity. The next great civilization that emerges is left with this shipwreck of a legacy, yet still manages to increase prosperity to the highest levels after the Romans, while also creating the best literacy and life expectancy rates the world has ever seen (including the Roman rates). And that, according to FD, is a civilization that  "does not even register" and "produced almost nothing".
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Re: Why the West Rules ~ For Now
Reply #20 - Feb 1st, 2015 at 5:54pm
 
freediver wrote on Feb 1st, 2015 at 4:29pm:
What Gandalf describes as the greatest empire of all time was actually an unusually low point in human development in the west


Gandalf described no such thing. Gandalf merely mocks and ridicules the idea that the Islamic empire "does not even register" and "produced almost nothing" on any quantitative scale of economic/social development.

Also, the "unusually low point in human development" was reached about a century before Islam emerged. Islam was left to clean up the mess. Thats the point you will no doubt continue to ignore.
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Re: Why the West Rules ~ For Now
Reply #21 - Feb 1st, 2015 at 7:33pm
 
Quote:
significantly increasing all components of Morris's social development scale.


You mean that tiny blip on the bottom of the gap in social development between the Roman Empire and the Industrial Revolution? To me it says that the west had descended so low that something so backwards was able to take over. It nearly managed to freeze western development in time.

Quote:
So, in summary, the world according to FD: the greatest empire on earth emerges, massively lifts economic prosperity to the greatest ever levels, then collapses and sees a correspondingly catastrophic crash in economic activity. The next great civilization that emerges is left with this shipwreck of a legacy, yet still manages to increase prosperity to the highest levels after the Romans, while also creating the best literacy and life expectancy rates the world has ever seen (including the Roman rates). And that, according to FD, is a civilization that  "does not even register" and "produced almost nothing".


Gandalf, if our society managed to lift social development slightly, to a level significantly lower than what it was 1000 years ago, despite all the knowledge and technology still being available (plus a bit more), would an objective analysis conclude that ours is the greatest of all time, or a failure by historical standards?

Quote:
Gandalf described no such thing. Gandalf merely mocks and ridicules the idea that the Islamic empire "does not even register" and "produced almost nothing" on any quantitative scale of economic/social development.


My bad:

polite_gandalf wrote on Jan 25th, 2015 at 10:41pm:
as well as one of the greatest civilizations the world has ever seen.


polite_gandalf wrote on Jan 26th, 2015 at 12:27am:
Soren wrote on Jan 25th, 2015 at 11:32pm:
This greatest civilisation nonsense is really childish Gandy. How do you explain the 800 intervening years of decline under a strong caliphate (other than by claiming Muslim victimhood)?i


So the islamic empire wasn't great - because for 800 years after its heyday it was crap?

You really running with this Soren?


It was already crap compared to what was around 800 years earlier.

Quote:
Also, the "unusually low point in human development" was reached about a century before Islam emerged. Islam was left to clean up the mess.


How much did it lift it by Gandalf? It cleaned nothing up. It prevented a recovery. It still does this today in the middle east. The Islamic "golden age" was a lost opportunity, human development squandered by interfering religious zealots. even at it's peak the Caliphate was still an unusually low point in human development.
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Re: Why the West Rules ~ For Now
Reply #22 - Feb 1st, 2015 at 8:58pm
 
freediver wrote on Feb 1st, 2015 at 7:33pm:
You mean that tiny blip on the bottom of the gap in social development between the Roman Empire and the Industrial Revolution?


All blips on that graph are tiny FD - its measuring millenia. Its more instructive to look at the actual plot figures which Morris details on the pdf I linked to earlier. I would only make a couple of points, as I have been over most of it in my first post (which you mostly ignored): 1. the economic crash during and after the fall of Rome was catastrophic and cannot be overemphasised. I gave the relevant fall in 'organizational' ratings to illustrate this. That any civilization - especially one that quite literally started from scratch - could come along and not only oversee economic recovery and relative prosperity, but also institute a brand new system that we know stimulated education rates and lifespan rates to levels higher than any levels seen previously - I think should rate a mention as a civilization that "registers" on any analysis of the economic/social/cultural development of the western world. 2. Its ridiculous to compare the economic achievements of  both by simply comparing raw output figures - because they didn't control the same areas. Its especially stupid to look at Mediterranean shipwreck rates during and after Rome and draw conclusions about how prosperous things were under Islam - for the simple reason that Rome controlled the whole of the Mediterranean while Islam controlled only a small part of it - even at its greatest height.

freediver wrote on Feb 1st, 2015 at 7:33pm:
My bad:


Yes, my bad actually -  "one of the greatest civilizations" obviously means the greatest  Tongue

freediver wrote on Feb 1st, 2015 at 7:33pm:
How much did it lift it by Gandalf? It cleaned nothing up.


Feel free to read your own source FD - the figures are all there. Again its ridiculous to make a simple 'like for like' comparison between what Rome was outputting in 100AD with what Cairo was outputting in 900AD. Rome had centuries of continual development and growth for the Roman Empire to cash in on - whereas Cairo and Baghdad were literally built from scratch by the muslims - and for 300 years and probably more, was the economic centre of the western world (not to mention the cultural and knowledge capitals). If the muslims had managed to capture Rome or Constantinople during the golden age, then no doubt things would have been a lot different. The truth is though the muslim empire never had the opportunity to run established massive economic centres and cash in like the Romans did. Most of what became the economic centres of the world during the golden age were brand new centres that the muslims built from scratch.
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Re: Why the West Rules ~ For Now
Reply #23 - Feb 1st, 2015 at 9:43pm
 
Quote:
All blips on that graph are tiny FD


The Roman Empire is not. The Song Dynasty is not. The Industrial Revolution is not. The Caliphate is. It barely registers. It is a hole in the history of civilisation.

Quote:
Its more instructive to look at the actual plot figures which Morris details on the pdf I linked to earlier.


Of course, if your aim is to destroy the context so it is not immediately obvious that for all it's greatness, the Caliphate remained a gap in the history of human development, and that both contemporary Chinese society and previous western society was far more advanced. The Caliphate could neither learn from what had happened previously or what was happening in China. It could only blame others for it's backwardness, as you do now.

Quote:
1. the economic crash during and after the fall of Rome was catastrophic and cannot be overemphasised. I gave the relevant fall in 'organizational' ratings to illustrate this. That any civilization - especially one that quite literally started from scratch


It could have stood on the shoulders of giants. It chose not to. This is a feeble excuse.

Quote:
could come along and not only oversee economic recovery and relative prosperity


Relative to what? It remained a hole in the history of human development. You have to set the bar extremely low to make this claim. Both the contemporary Song Dynasty and the Roman Empire improved at a greater rate. It had all been done before. The Caliphate could not even copy past and present civilisation. Islam brought stagnation. It still does today.

Quote:
but also institute a brand new system


Whatever it did that was different was a failure.

Quote:
Its ridiculous to compare the economic achievements of  both by simply comparing raw output figures - because they didn't control the same areas.


Both the contemporary Song Dynasty and the previous Roman empire achieved far more - in different locations. The Caliphate actually came to control much of the old Roman empire, so even this feeble excuse fails. Not achieving everything that came after is understandable. Not even getting to the level that came previously in time at the same location, and that separately existed at the same time in China, puts the Caliphate pretty low down the list. Morris' analysis shows a long history of empires and civilisations that took human development further than anything in history. The Caliphate was an exceptionally low point in the history of human development.

Quote:
Its especially stupid to look at Mediterranean shipwreck rates


Morris looked at a whole host of measures of human development, all of which showed consistent trends.

Quote:
during and after Rome and draw conclusions about how prosperous things were under Islam


Of course Gandalf - he drew conclusions about Rome from Roman shipwrecks.

Quote:
while Islam controlled only a small part of it - even at its greatest height.


It controlled all of Spain and parts of France, as well as the North African coast. Muslim slavers came to destroy most of the Italian coastline. There was not a pot of gold or an oil well sitting in Rome that the Muslims failed to stumble upon. Everything that made Rome and the Song Dynasty so much greater was there for the Muslims to copy, if only they could get over their pig headed delusions that the infidel has nothing for them and that Muslims must be superior. If they put as much effort into lifting humanity as they put into keeping down the infidel, they could have done something great. Instead they squandered the opportunity and put a brake on human development.

Quote:
Yes, my bad actually -  "one of the greatest civilizations" obviously means the greatest


It does not even register as "one of the great". It was a low point in the history of human development. It bucked the trend and showed that a massive empire could actually stall human development. There are many empires used by Morris that rose from the ashes and/or fringes of previous empires to build something better. The Caliphate was no different in where it came from. What sets it apart is where it went - nowhere. It is the feeblest of excuses. It is the sort of excuse mongering that has kept the middle east in a backwards state ever since.
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Re: Why the West Rules ~ For Now
Reply #24 - Feb 1st, 2015 at 10:09pm
 
freediver wrote on Feb 1st, 2015 at 9:43pm:
The Roman Empire is not.


Yes it is - the actual Roman Empire is a tiny blip lasting a mere couple of hundred years or so - amongst 16 thousand years of data. They are a tiny spike on top of thousands of years of continual growth. Far more pronounced is the crash that happened after Rome collapsed. But its all blips - every individual rise and fall of a civilization is a blip on that graph. The only thing thats not a blip is the massive rise of both the east and west in the last couple of hundred years.

freediver wrote on Feb 1st, 2015 at 9:43pm:
The Caliphate actually came to control much of the old Roman empire, so even this feeble excuse fails.


Your logic is absurd FD. The economic centre of Rome was Rome, and to a lesser extent Constantinople, plus a few other European locations. They were great and massive economic centres because of hundreds, even thousands of years of continuous economic, political and cultural development. Quite simply, Rome rose out of the ashes of many many layers of civilization and sophisticated economic and political development. Islam on the other hand rose in an area that had no civilization outside primitive nomadic culture. When it expanded, it expanded into areas that had been decimated by centuries of upheaval warfare, plague and economic devastation. In fact Morris's graph clearly shows the period of this decimation as the biggest economic catastrophe the world had ever seen. Moreover, the Islamic Empire did not capture any significant economic and cultural centres on the scale of Rome or Constantinople. In fact what came to be the economic centres of the western world during the Islamic Golden Age were primarily cities that were built from scratch by the muslims.

Perhaps the question you should be asking is why the previous mammoths like Rome and Constantinople - outside muslim rule - didn't even rate alongside the economic achievements of the muslim centres during the peak of the Islamic empire.
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Re: Why the West Rules ~ For Now
Reply #25 - Feb 1st, 2015 at 10:23pm
 
Well, without buying into the "discussion" about the West etc, I would make the following comment -

The next 30-40 years won't be anything like the last 30-40 years & the rest of this century will see movement on a massive scale!

In fact, what may normally have taken hundreds of years, quite likely may happen over the next 30-40 years AND what may have taken thousands of years, is likely to be compressed within the rest of this century!
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Re: Why the West Rules ~ For Now
Reply #26 - Feb 2nd, 2015 at 7:47am
 
Wow, long story short, west is good east is bad.

That about sums it up.

The West Rules? Indeed, I don't think it does, it capitalises on material advantage for the present, but in case no one noticed, some competition is coming the Wests way... So, if it truly wants to Rule, perhaps some creative leadership would be timely...
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Re: Why the West Rules ~ For Now
Reply #27 - Feb 2nd, 2015 at 9:45am
 
Phemanderac wrote on Feb 2nd, 2015 at 7:47am:
but in case no one noticed, some competition is coming the Wests way


Well to be fair, I think thats the whole point Morris's book is making.

Morris doesn't deal at all with FD's 'the west is great because of its freedom and democracy' crap, but rather attributes economic prosperity primarily to the accidents of geography.

Its a point that astonishingly goes way over FD's head as he attempts to use the data in this book to "prove" that Islam "does not even register" and "achieved almost nothing".

It is completely absurd to draw conclusions about Islam's achievements or otherwise simply by drawing comparisons of the energy outputs between the economic centres of the islamic empire and the Roman empire. Its apples and oranges - the Roman Empire captured all the most lucrative economic bread-baskets of the western world at a time when their economic output was already high, and was developing rapidly. The Islamic empire a) didn't capture any of the western 'superpower' economic centres such as Rome or Constantinople, instead had to start from fresh - literally creating their own economic centres from scratch (Cairo, Baghdad), and b) what they did capture in the western world was at that time devastated both economically and organizationally by the catastrophic decline that followed the fall of the Roman Empire.

Not to mention that the "achievements" of an empire can't purely be judged by (scant - by Morris's own admission) evidence of mere energy output of its economic centres. The education, intellectual, cultural and lifestyle (the islamic empire raised life expectancy to highest ever rates - including Roman times) achievements of islam alone blow the stupid claim that it "achieved almost nothing" out of the water.
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Re: Why the West Rules ~ For Now
Reply #28 - Feb 2nd, 2015 at 6:58pm
 
Phemanderac wrote on Feb 2nd, 2015 at 7:47am:
Wow, long story short, west is good east is bad.

That about sums it up.

The West Rules? Indeed, I don't think it does, it capitalises on material advantage for the present, but in case no one noticed, some competition is coming the Wests way... So, if it truly wants to Rule, perhaps some creative leadership would be timely...


Good propaganda, Comrade. By pushing equality, we "progressives" will bring forth "creative leadership". Creativity can only happen by making criminals and the degenerate equal with the cultured and intelligent. This is progress.
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Re: Why the West Rules ~ For Now
Reply #29 - Feb 2nd, 2015 at 9:02pm
 
Quote:
Yes it is - the actual Roman Empire is a tiny blip lasting a mere couple of hundred years or so


I was hoping it would have been obvious from my argument that I was including the Republican period Gandalf. It was the same civilisation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Empire

Quote:
The Roman Empire (Latin: Imperium Romanum) was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterized by government headed by emperors, and large territorial holdings around the Mediterranean Sea in Europe, Africa, and Asia. The 500 year old republic which preceded it was severely destabilized in a series of civil wars and political conflict, during which Julius Caesar was appointed as perpetual dictator and then assassinated in 44 BC.


Far more pronounced is the crash that happened after Rome collapsed.

The rate of change looks slower than than the build-up beforehand, and it obviously does not go as deep either.

Quote:
But its all blips - every individual rise and fall of a civilization is a blip on that graph.


If you hold it far enough away from your eyes to defeat the purpose of plotting it on a graph. Would you have us draw a straight line over the last 16000 years so as not to offend the ignorant sensibilities of Muslims who want to prattle on about how great the Caliphate was, and ignore all the variations as inconsequential blips?

Quote:
The only thing thats not a blip is the massive rise of both the east and west in the last couple of hundred years.


Not true. You are being mislead by the scale of the graph. If you drew the same graph up to the year zero, it would also show a very impressive and recent rise, at the end of what appears to be a long, relatively flat period.

Quote:
Your logic is absurd FD. The economic centre of Rome was Rome, and to a lesser extent Constantinople, plus a few other European locations. They were great and massive economic centres because of hundreds, even thousands of years of continuous economic, political and cultural development. Quite simply, Rome rose out of the ashes of many many layers of civilization and sophisticated economic and political development. Islam on the other hand rose in an area that had no civilization outside primitive nomadic culture.


I said that the Caliphate came to conquer much of the old Roman Empire, and plenty more on top of that. The fact that it came from such backwardness reinforces my argument. It was the catastrophic destruction of civilisation that allowed something as backward as Islam to take over. Had it been a more modern, progressive model, it would have quickly regained what was lost. The Caliphate ended everything that was holding society back - the constant wars and migrations. But living standards remained well below what they were a millennia earlier, because Islam kept them there. We saw a microcosm of this in Afghanistan after the Russian invasion. A once relatively progressive society was destroyed. Islam took over. The Russian were not there any more. The society should have recovered. It did not, because of Islam. Many western Muslims talk about Afghanistan the same way you talk about the Caliphate. You are all polishing a turd.

Quote:
When it expanded, it expanded into areas that had been decimated by centuries of upheaval warfare, plague and economic devastation. In fact Morris's graph clearly shows the period of this decimation as the biggest economic catastrophe the world had ever seen.


The collapse of most of the big empires was like that. They were eventually replaced by any even bigger one, even with a similar time scale. None of this sets the Caliphate apart. What sets the Caliphate apart is it's failures.

Quote:
Moreover, the Islamic Empire did not capture any significant economic and cultural centres on the scale of Rome or Constantinople. In fact what came to be the economic centres of the western world during the Islamic Golden Age were primarily cities that were built from scratch by the muslims.


Neither did any of the empires the came before. They became great. Nothing forced the Muslims to build these cities from scratch, other than their own delusions of superiority.

Quote:
Morris doesn't deal at all with FD's 'the west is great because of its freedom and democracy' crap, but rather attributes economic prosperity primarily to the accidents of geography.
Its a point that astonishingly goes way over FD's head as he attempts to use the data in this book to "prove" that Islam "does not even register" and "achieved almost nothing".


The human development index shows quite clearly how poorly the Caliphate did when it comes to raising people's living standards. There is no need at all for a theory to explain why it did so poorly in order to demonstrate that it achieved very little. I have explained plenty of times where the causal theory comes from, and it is not in any way contradicted by Morris' work.

Quote:
It is completely absurd to draw conclusions about Islam's achievements or otherwise simply by drawing comparisons of the energy outputs


One more time for Gandalf. Morris uses four independent measures of human development that show very similar trends over time.
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