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About "large systems"

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    Posted: 03 Jun 2010 at 06:31
Here I pick up some aspects of a discussion from another thread(Topic: Historical Continuity, Large Systems and Future) , but with another "twist", since the question may deserve separate attention. I see two separate questions here:1 what do we mean when talking about "large systems"? The answer could perhaps be "rule large territories" or "empires" or perhaps something entirely different, but the questionabout the very meaning at least deserves some thoughts and words.
The second question is about effects of such "large systems".
Here "large systems" are interpreted as "large political systems" - states, realms, empires and perhaps even including "international organisations. Anytime, anywhere on this planet.
Then to second question, about "effects" or where such "large systems" may lead. Do they lead to "progress" in any sense, and what is the past and present evidence for or against such "progress"?  For my own part I see little such evidence in most respects - it is hard to see convincing historical evidence that "large states" (territory, population) perform "better" or are necessarily more "advanced", but perhaps I miss something?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Jun 2010 at 06:52
Most factors that go to make up quality of life have optimum levels of size for successful handling. To take extremes, organising effective telecommunications is best done as high up as possible, whereas establishing opening hours for pubs, clubs and restaurants is best done on a local level.
 
This is exactly where the domination of the 'nation state' concept falls down as a way of organising society.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote eventhorizon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Jun 2010 at 11:25
I welcome opening of this new thread. Large system is a relative term for human societies, nation states or civilizations. A list of nation states today by population size:

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

A list of regional organizations by population size:

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

Among regional organizations, I have listed 14 in the other thread:

http://www.allempires.net/forum/historical-continuity-large-systems-and-future_topic125023_page4.html

1. US+Canada
2. Unasur+Mexico
3. EU
4. Arab League + Turkey (if it cannot gain access to EU)
5. Sub Saharan African Union
6. Russian Federation
7. Central Asian Union + Mongolia
8. China (PRC + Taiwan)
9. ASEAN
10. SAARC
11. Oceania (Australia+New Zealand+PNG)
12. Japan
13. Korea (North + South)
14. Iran (possibly + Afghanistan + Tajikistan, but unlikely)

No. 4 here is a bit complicated, it possibly has room for two independent unions such as Maghreb and GCC. The future of Turkey is also in question, as it wants to be included within a reluctant EU, but finds the going to be difficult and the future in this direction is fraught with doubts and questions. Frustrated with EU accession progress, it spreads its wing in a Neo Ottomanism among neighbor nations and also among the Turkic Asian nations of No. 7 in a Pan Turkist flight of fancy (its actually more than fancy, there are Turkish business people and investors active there; Universities and schools have been setup in these countries including Mongolia), hedging its bets to avoid putting all eggs in one basket.

Typically any modern nation state above 10 million people could be called a large system, as size of population on the planet has increased in this scale only in the last few centuries. But it is not just the size of population, I  have also brought in the concept of historical continuity, shared common history of part of being in the same former empire or state, ethno linguistic roots etc. to determine viable entities. Proximity and geography also plays a large role, UK, Canada, Australia and NZ are culturally close, but due to proximity cannot hope to form a large system.

No. 11 and 13 would be smallest in size of population, but the largest in population would be SAARC. So the size also is not uniform.

I should add that these are conveniently manageable viable global units that eventually can become regional states like the EU, and most of them include multiple nation states. The rare exceptions are Japan and Iran (No. 6, Russian Fed. group may include some neighboring states), which are already single nation states and will remain so in the foreseeable future with no changes needed to form unions with other nation states.

Size provides economies of scale, more stable political structure and thus more competitive advantage for the population. The US becoming the most powerful state with majority population of European origin, among all such states after WW II when the Mercantile empires were dissolved, is just one example, rise of China and India are other examples of benefits of larger systems.


Edited by eventhorizon - 05 Jun 2010 at 17:33
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Jun 2010 at 22:55
Originally posted by eventhorizon eventhorizon wrote:

Size provides economies of scale, more stable political structure and thus more competitive advantage for the population.
Size also provides diseconomies and inefficiencies of scale, increased bureaucratisation, overcomplicated and overlong decision-making systems, excessive drives toward uniformity, and so on.
Quote
The US becoming the most powerful state with majority population of European origin, among all such states after WW II when the Mercantile empires were dissolved, is just one example, rise of China and India are other examples of benefits of larger systems.
China certainly has also been a glaring example in the past of the dsadvantages of large systems.
 
You're ignoring the difference between the wealth of a nation/state/empire, which is in general irrelevant to progress, with the per capita wealth of its inhabitants, which is social engineering is all about, economically anyway.
 
Generally speaking smaller countries have wealthier and happier inhabitants than large ones do. And their social security systems work more efficiently.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dolphin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jun 2010 at 00:20
Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:


 
Generally speaking smaller countries have wealthier and happier inhabitants than large ones do. And their social security systems work more efficiently.

Only if the money's there. And the systems. Many small countries are more than happy to lose some of their sovereignty for a piece of the bigger system. 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jun 2010 at 03:36
Here I will set up some possible "fields of performance" for the further discussion about what we may mean by "succes" or "failure". And again my main focus are states.
1:Duration. How long may the state exist? Here I admit there may be increased probabillity for a large state to exist for a long time (think the Roman Empire or China). On the other hand this long existence may say nothing about other qualities.
2: Military strength. Here it is rather obvious that large states have more potential, though there is examples of smaller states winning wars.
3: Leadership. It may be tempting to think large states with huge populations should on average have "better leaders", since there are more people to chose between. In reality this can be doubted very much, since it is not hard to make a long list of leaders of populpous states with a very negative record.
So it seams no matter how big a state (and why not any type of "system"?) there is no guarantee against the worst imaginable leaders.
4:Per Capita income. There seems to be extremely wealthy as well as poor examples of "large" states, in the past and perhaps even more the present.
5: average life spans, general health and other fields, Again it is not clear large states perform  any "better".
6:"Creativity" of the people, society and culture. Again the evidence is not so clear in favour of "large states".
7: Internal peace over a large area. Here it is simple logic that any state of any size are in a sense "internally at peace" to some degree. There can not be unlimited violence except by the authorities, since if there were, the state by definition would cease to exist. Later I may give some examples.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote eventhorizon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jun 2010 at 05:28
Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

Originally posted by eventhorizon eventhorizon wrote:

Size provides economies of scale, more stable political structure and thus more competitive advantage for the population.
Size also provides diseconomies and inefficiencies of scale, increased bureaucratisation, overcomplicated and overlong decision-making systems, excessive drives toward uniformity, and so on.
Quote
The US becoming the most powerful state with majority population of European origin, among all such states after WW II when the Mercantile empires were dissolved, is just one example, rise of China and India are other examples of benefits of larger systems.
China certainly has also been a glaring example in the past of the dsadvantages of large systems.
 
You're ignoring the difference between the wealth of a nation/state/empire, which is in general irrelevant to progress, with the per capita wealth of its inhabitants, which is social engineering is all about, economically anyway.
 
Generally speaking smaller countries have wealthier and happier inhabitants than large ones do. And their social security systems work more efficiently.


A system in transition will be more chaotic than a stable system, also there is some inherent disadvantages of larger systems, bigger can be harder to manage because of more inefficient bureaucracy, long decision making, drive towards uniformity etc. as you mentioned, but the advantages of large systems outweigh these disadvantages, and it is possible I believe to improve on these disadvantages over time, it is just another difficult problem that needs creative solutions. The other factor at work is ever improving technology and better tools (transportation, communication and computational tools for example), which makes it easier to manage larger systems, than it was in older days. I would argue that with existing technology a global system is manageable, but the problem is the historic continuity of civilizations, which make such a project not feasible for the time being, as it needs a long period of orderly transition.

China, ever since it was unified and integrated, it more or less did well compared to smaller similar neighboring agrarian civilizations, such as Korea or Japan or the ones further south in South East Asia:

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

One constant headache for China always was the northern nomadic "barbarians", just as the Germans were for Roman empire. Eventually China fell to Mongols and again under Jin/Jurchen/Mongol combination, known as the Manchu's. European trading powers also caused much disruption in the last centuries, but never ruled China which is a critical difference, as it was the case in India. So it could be said that the Han Chinese majority civilization is a recovering giant ever since the fall of Manchu Qing dynasty in 1911. Unfortunately communism took hold in this disrupted entity due to its weakness caused by these major disruptions namely Mongol and Manchu foreign rule and domination and finally the communism idea from the great European idiot, Karl Marx (sorry if I hurt anyone's feelings), was taken up and used by Mao. One could also argue that after the fall of Manchu, in 1911, nationalism failed to keep China together, so the communists emerged victorious and during this period, the Han Chinese elite were consolidating to negate the disruption of the latest Manchu rule to reform and rise from the ashes. The process still continues as China moves more towards market economy and a new wealthy elite, upper and middle classes form in Chinese society and polity.

So China as a large system, actually did survive these disruptions and came out mangled and injured, but its future definitely seems bright, as it seems to be destined to be the new top dawg in global hierarchy of large systems, possibly beating the US in a few decades.

Wealth of nations depends on many things, some would argue that natural resources are important, but probably the most important is how well a nation or large system is able to harness the creative potential of the human brain, based on a stable peaceful political structure that ensures proper nutrition, clean environment, educational system to train and business environment that fosters innovation to unlock the creativity factor of the human brain. Sometimes small nations do this much better than unwieldy larger systems or nations, but in the long run they loose out, because of other factors, such as stability of political structure and economies of scale. That is why small European nations will always choose to be within EU rather than stay out.


Edited by eventhorizon - 04 Jun 2010 at 05:58
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jun 2010 at 05:53
Where I think you are wrong is in assuming that everything needs to be organised on the same scale. Some social functions are better organised on a large scale, other on smaller scales, others at points between.
 
To be swept away by some ideological belief that 'bigger is better' or 'smaller is better' is equally wrong. There should be no level to which all such decision-making devolves. The seatch for one is a delusion.
 
It's been a long time since Schumacher wrote Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered but Amazon still have it and it's still worth reading.
 


Edited by gcle2003 - 04 Jun 2010 at 06:00
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jun 2010 at 06:06
Originally posted by Dolphin Dolphin wrote:

Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:


 
Generally speaking smaller countries have wealthier and happier inhabitants than large ones do. And their social security systems work more efficiently.

Only if the money's there. And the systems.
Obviously. That's equally true of larger countries. Doesn't lter the point that large scale social welfare systems have more inefficiencies than small ones.
Quote
Many small countries are more than happy to lose some of their sovereignty for a piece of the bigger system. 
Like Ireland wanted to be in the United Kingdom? And Chechnya wants to be in Russia? I think you'll find a lot more groups around demanding independence than demanding giving it up.
 
Anyway what I'm saying is wrong is thinking that you have to have everything organised at the same level, not that any particular level is best or worst. I think the world is beginning at least to recognise the truth of that. Certainly both devolution and centralisation away from the natioanl level have been happening in Europe.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jun 2010 at 06:30
The states with biggest populations in Europe now: Russia, Germany then third (not far from each other):UK, France. Italy. The most known leaders of those countries: Lenin, Nicolai 2. stalin, Gorbachev, Putin for Russia. William 2. Hitler,  Kohl for Germany (plus some for each states of divided Germany), churchill, thatcher, Blair for U.K. de Gaulle, Clemencau, Mitterand, Chirac for France, Mussolini, for Italy (plus some i forgot). Of course since the leaders of smaller states are generally less known, so are their bad merits easier forgotten. Still i have the impression this list is not particularly enviable. And I am not sure the record is so much better for large states that disappeared, like the Austrian/Hungarian Empire of Habsburg, the Ottoman Empire or for the newest big one:Ukraine. Then there is Spain and Poland - even Romania or Jugoslavia as "medium -sized" states.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote eventhorizon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Jun 2010 at 16:14
Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

Where I think you are wrong is in assuming that everything needs to be organised on the same scale. Some social functions are better organised on a large scale, other on smaller scales, others at points between.
 
To be swept away by some ideological belief that 'bigger is better' or 'smaller is better' is equally wrong. There should be no level to which all such decision-making devolves. The seatch for one is a delusion.
 
It's been a long time since Schumacher wrote Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered but Amazon still have it and it's still worth reading.
 


Schumacher's message of sustainable agriculture and less consumerism to better manage the finite natural resources on the planet is consistent with my position I have emphasized throughout the thread "Historical Continuity, Large Systems and Future".

I believe this does not conflict with the idea that nation states with shared and common history can do away with their borders and integrate to form a larger regional group.

A larger system does not mean that local authority will be lessened due to out of touch bureaucrats in the central capital such as Brussels in case of EU. If such concentration of power happens in the hand of out of touch bureaucrats and results in less efficient and inappropriate management of society, then that is a failure and lack of creativity of the people involved in designing appropriate management structure for a large system. Decentralization can be very much a strategic part of managing a larger system, if that is found to be more appropriate or efficient.

The push towards larger system comes from the following factors:

- borders are inherently inefficient (although they seem to preserve the way of life of a particular people and their culture) because they stop or complicate the flow of goods
- pooling together larger number of communities, cities, towns, villages, provides a more powerful and stable structure that all can share for creating larger armies to counter common external threat, develop bigger pool of talented scientists and engineers, who can work on creative problem solving and thus find better solutions and many other such benefits on the principle that united we stand and divided we fail
- provide a safety net for down and out communities that needs help, so they do not suffer on their own. If a natural disaster happens to some city or state in the US or PRC, the rest of the country is legally obligated to respond, whereas a small isolated country in Asia or Africa is dependent on charity, just one example among many other such benefits
- small indigenous marginalized communities could get better protection under a larger community of nations, as opposed to being a minority among a hostile overly nationalist majority, such as the Kurds among Turks in Turkey, if Turkey could ever become part of EU

On my part, it is not an ideological belief, but the realization of the fact large systems already exist such as the PRC, USA, Japan etc. and they are sometimes disproportionately influencing other states who are relatively smaller and not being able to compete with these larger entities. The competition does not have to be to produce the highest technology, the best product or getting the most market share, but the competition could be to provide the best quality of life for its inhabitants in accordance with Schumacher's ecologically conscious "Buddhist economics", even in that kind of endeavor, I believe regional groups can be a critical tool in achieving competitive edge and making a difference.

The examples of Ireland/UK and Chechnya/Russia are cases of assimilation attempts that did not succeed. Most large systems in the past were formed by force, but in case of unsuccessful attempts like these two, still existing resistance is just indication that the assimilation attempts were not successful. The forming of large systems such as a regional group such as the EU and others today and in the future, are usually voluntary and are often decided with referendums.

Although the Irish were hostile with the English for forced assimilation, both have no qualms about becoming members of a larger EU. Kavkaz or Russian Caucasus along with independent Georgia will remain a thorn for the Russian state.


Edited by eventhorizon - 05 Jun 2010 at 18:48
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote eventhorizon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Jun 2010 at 17:27
Originally posted by fantasus fantasus wrote:

The states with biggest populations in Europe now: Russia, Germany then third (not far from each other):UK, France. Italy. The most known leaders of those countries: Lenin, Nicolai 2. stalin, Gorbachev, Putin for Russia. William 2. Hitler,  Kohl for Germany (plus some for each states of divided Germany), churchill, thatcher, Blair for U.K. de Gaulle, Clemencau, Mitterand, Chirac for France, Mussolini, for Italy (plus some i forgot). Of course since the leaders of smaller states are generally less known, so are their bad merits easier forgotten. Still i have the impression this list is not particularly enviable. And I am not sure the record is so much better for large states that disappeared, like the Austrian/Hungarian Empire of Habsburg, the Ottoman Empire or for the newest big one:Ukraine. Then there is Spain and Poland - even Romania or Jugoslavia as "medium -sized" states.


You are essentially dealing with two regions, Europe and Russia or Romanov Empire to be specific. Europe's genesis starts with Greek and Roman city states, evolves into Greek and eventually Roman empire, which then divides into two. The western part eventually gets dominated by Germans, who for long had been the barbarian outsiders from the North. Ethno linguistic nationalism takes hold and gives rise to nation states under various monarchies, which then evolve into democratic nation states and then today we have EU, which is trying to integrate both Western and Eastern Europe.

The Romanov empire has its genesis in Kievan Rus who went under Mongols in Golden Horde, the control of which then gets transferred to increasingly influential Muscovite Princes and then to Romanov dynasty. Because of the inherent weakness of its disrupted history under Mongol (Tatar) Yoke, it became the launching point for Marx's disastrous ideas.

The Habsburgs were an integral part of the European scene, but the Ottomans were in the periphery although they did manage to occupy a significant part of Eastern Europe, became an Islamic incarnation of the Byzantine empire with many of its former territories and had influence in the Russian space as well via Krimean Khanate for some centuries.

The leaders of small, medium and larger states played their roles in positive, negative or unclear transformation of their systems, but the important thing is that the original tribes eventually evolved into nations or peoples, such as the Germans, Poles, English etc. who will be there for some time. When they feel some shared sense of history and ethnic root, out of convenience they decide to join together, as is the case with EU and most regional groups.

So historical continuity is always a critical factor, specially ethnic and linguistic ties in the formation of a regional group. Even though the Japanese or Korean share genes with the Han Chinese, because of some of their common ancestors, Japanese and Korean civilizations evolved completely on separate tracks, although they influenced each other. Both Japanese and Korean civilizations were influenced more by the older and larger Han Chinese civilization. Because of the related but different civilizations, Japan or Korea will not became a part of the Chinese large system, whereas Hong Kong was returned to PRC and Taiwan may eventually become part of some kind of Chinese Regional group along with PRC and possibly Singapore (majority Han Chinese). Disaster happens when one goes against this rule, such as Japan forcibly annexing Korea and then trying to make Koreans believe in the myth that they were some kind of lesser Japanese, so they should assimilate with Japanese society to become some kind of second class Japanese.


Edited by eventhorizon - 06 Jun 2010 at 05:57
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Jun 2010 at 19:18
Originally posted by eventhorizon eventhorizon wrote:



You are essentially dealing with two regions, Europe and Russia or Romanov Empire to be specific. Europe's genesis starts with Greek and Roman city states, evolves into Greek and eventually Roman empire, which then divides into two. The western part eventually gets dominated by Germans, who for long had been the barbarian outsiders from the North. Ethno linguistic nationalism takes hold and gives rise to nation states under various monarchies, which then evolve into democratic nation states and then today we have EU, which is trying to integrate both Western and Eastern Europe.

The Romanov empire has its genesis in Kievan Rus who went under Mongols in Golden Horde, the control of which then gets transferred to increasingly influential Muscovite Princes and then to Romanov dynasty. Because of the inherent weakness of its disrupted history under Mongol (Tatar) Yoke, it became the launching point for Marx's disastrous ideas.

The Habsburgs were an integral part of the European scene, but the Ottomans were in the periphery although they did manage to occupy a significant part of Eastern Europe and had influence in the Russian space via Krimean Khanate for some centuries.

The leaders of small, medium and larger states played their roles in positive, negative or unclear transformation of their systems, but the important thing is that the original tribes eventually evolved into nations or peoples, such as the Germans, Poles, English etc. will be there for some time. When they feel some shared sense of history and ethnic root, out of convenience they decide to join together, as is the case with EU and most regional groups.

So historical continuity is always a critical factor, specially ethnic and linguistic ties in the formation of a regional group. Even though the Japanese or Korean share genes with the Han Chinese, because of some of their common ancestors, Japanese and Korean civilizations evolved completely on separate tracks, although they influenced each other. Both Japanese and Korean civilizations were influenced more by the older and larger Han Chinese civilization. Because of the related but different civilizations, Japan or Korea will not became a part of the Chinese large system, whereas Hong Kong was returned to PRC and Taiwan may eventually become part of some kind of Chinese Regional group along with PRC and possibly Singapore (majority Han Chinese). Disaster happens when one goes against this rule, such as Japan forcibly annexing Korea and then trying to make Koreans believe in the myth that they were some kind of lesser Japanese, so they should assimilate with Japanese society to become some kind of second class Japanese.
From my viewpoint such "systems" are not at all to be compared with well -defined "objects". It will ultimately depend on point of view what "systems" has existed, for how long and with what geographical extend. So Russia or the Balkans may be included or not in a "european" system, very much depending on ones point of view. Even the very idea of an "european system"  may be discussed, as well as the role of Greeks, Romans, christianity or Jews. Politically any "european system" may have mainly been an idea - perhaps the closest may be the authority of the Roman Catholic Church before reformation. Defining the other "large systems" may not be much more easy.
Then if we look at other areas than politics it is imaginable Your supposedly "well defined large european system" may come closer to reality but I am not sure. It is a question wether the borders of "geographical Europe" ever  corresponded to an econoc, religious or cultural "unit" or "bloc" - honestly I doubt it but are open for arguments. My own idea of what Europe is (beside of course the wider region I live in):The westernmost part of what is realy the biggest land -mass "Eurasia" plus some offshore Islands. To the east very unclear frontier to "Asia"(the rest of that land mass) - so therefore the Ural may be as good as any other.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote eventhorizon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Jun 2010 at 21:28
I found the following empire/civilization time lines on the web, perhaps there are better ones available:

http://www.tenthletter.com/Timeline.htm
http://www.timelines.info/history/empires_and_civilizations/ancient_civilisations/
http://www.timelines.info/history/empires_and_civilizations/

Definition of Europe is a bit nebulous, but as a continent it is clearly defined geographically:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Map_of_Europe_%28political%29.png

Here is something interesting:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Europe_gdp_map-1-.png
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Huns_empire.png
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_Mongol_conquests

Huns were somewhat europanized turkic people it seems, but I am not sure, they were definitely nomadic mounted archers, which all turko mongols were. The Hunnic empire was mostly in Europe, so the disruption caused by the Huns was probably lesser in degree than completely foreign Mongols. In both cases Eastern Europe took the brunt and was thus severely disrupted, which IMHO shows up in the GDP difference in above map. Formation of Soviet Union, where Marx's ideas took hold, was also a result of this disruption IMHO, which later affected Eastern Europe as well.



Edited by eventhorizon - 05 Jun 2010 at 21:33
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Jun 2010 at 21:56
I admit I find this "clear definition" somewhat arbitrary, meaning little in itself. The Australian, the Antarctic landmasses are "naturally defined", essentially big islands (plus some additional smaller ones). The African and Southamerican landmasses approximately so too, only connected by land to other continents by a narrow isthmuss. In the same way "Eurasia" would be a "natural entity" - approximately one "super island"(or continent). I will be very surprised if the kassakh steppes on either side of the euro-asian border are not nearly the same over very big areas.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Jun 2010 at 07:07
Originally posted by eventhorizon eventhorizon wrote:

You may want to look at:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Europe
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geography_of_Europe
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borders_of_the_continents
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_spanning_more_than_one_continent
This tells us little if anything about an eventual european "system" andwhat should be so special about it.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Jun 2010 at 07:13
Why do your conglomerations have to be contiguous? Why not, for instance, Spain with Latin America? All Code Napoléon countries? All Anglo-Saxon common law contries?
 
And so on.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Jun 2010 at 09:26
Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

Why do your conglomerations have to be contiguous? Why not, for instance, Spain with Latin America? All Code Napoléon countries? All Anglo-Saxon common law contries?
 
And so on.
 
There can be some special parralels between states on entirely different places, at certain times in history.Germany, Italy, United states and perhaps to some degree Japan seems to me to have been trough a period of "unification" and "modernisation" by force during roughly the same 25 years of the 19.th century (the 3.rd quarter - from approximately eraly fifties to seventies. Later they became main actors on the scene of power politics, and to some degree other fields too (economic, and partially technological and scientific powers).
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote eventhorizon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Jun 2010 at 20:07
Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

Why do your conglomerations have to be contiguous? Why not, for instance, Spain with Latin America? All Code Napoléon countries? All Anglo-Saxon common law contries?
 
And so on.


Its because long distance relationship are difficult. As fantasus likes to say, geography plays a big role in forming character, as much as previous history of culture, so an Anglo American is closer to an Anglo Canadian but much farther from a British, an Australian or a New Zealander anglo. It costs money, energy and time to transport people and goods to keep up personal or business relationship, whereas it is more efficient to create local relationships. So just like blood relatives living faraway people eventually drift away except for meeting on yearly vacation or holidays. Local genetic contribution, large or small also plays a role in this drift. The Spanish or Portuguese colonies in South and Central America and Philippines, had tremendous intermixing with the locals, but later French or Anglo colonies, as a policy avoided this race mixing to a large extent.

So as much as the British likes to imagine being at the center of the commonwealth (former British Empire) universe, the tunnel under English channel and the proximity of European mainland, makes its role in EU and Euro zone inevitable.

The only exceptions are islands like Hawaii or smaller ones that are maintained far-away for strategic and military reasons. But if they had any significant population then the above rules would apply. For this reason, Australia and New Zealand attract large number of immigrants from nearby Asian countries and their business and commercial tie with Asia is also getting deeper. For that matter Hawaii also attracted a huge Japanese, Korean, Philipino or other Asian immigrant community.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote eventhorizon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Jun 2010 at 21:00
Originally posted by fantasus fantasus wrote:

Originally posted by eventhorizon eventhorizon wrote:

You may want to look at:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Europe
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geography_of_Europe
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borders_of_the_continents
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_spanning_more_than_one_continent
This tells us little if anything about an eventual european "system" andwhat should be so special about it.


I think Europe traces its origins in the early Greek and Roman imperial experience, which includes the outsider "barbarians" who eventually became its part, such as Huns, Vikings or Germans.

So Russia which traces its origin in Kievan Rus, and became part of Mongol Khanates as opposed being a part of Polish Lithuanian empire, has a different point of genesis. Many Russian Boyar aristocrats have part Tatar and Turkic origins.

The development of a separate and unique Russian Orthodox church, as a successor to the fallen Greek Orthodox church in Constantinople as its new torch bearer, may have something do with this separation from Europe, but it also happens to be one of Russians ties to Europe proper.

The other difference in Russia is its colonial expansion in the South and East. The Southern Central Asian lands have separated from Russia, but the Eastern Siberian expanse and its Asiatic inhabitants though small in number makes Russia more multi ethnic, so does the non Russian inhabitants of Caucasus, who never fully assimilated.

The vast land holding of Russia, with the largest land mass under a single nation state or single majority ethnic group, also makes Russia a unique phenomenon, that makes it feel more like an empire and thus reluctant to become a poor second class European.

So it is possible that Russia and immediate neighbor states may consider themselves part of Europe and become part of EU in the far future, but for the time being, Russia, and possibly Belarus and Ukraine may remain separate from Europe. The case for the Caucasian states such as Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan are also difficult because of Russian concerns.

The case of Turkey, as the former Ottoman core successor state, is also interesting. It is just not any other state, but the heart of a former Muslim empire, that threatened all of Europe, so there is a question of whether Europe assimilates Turkey or Turkey assimilates Europe, although Europe apparently seems much bigger in size and population. Besides EU has its hands full with integration of the new member states to take on a new challenge like this. Some claim that Turkey is also not ready. So the time for Turkey's accession is probably decades away, even if it eventually happens, which is a big if, considering current EU public opinion.

For the time being, Turkey seems to want to become a global trader like the Koreans or Japanese, a non-aligned leader, as well as reviving its sphere of influence in former non-european Ottoman lands, and in Turkic Central Asia, the land of its romanticized Turkic ancestors.

Kazakhstan, is majority Kazakh, who just 70-80 years ago, were living in Yurts and raising sheep, horses etc. and of course they are almost 100% Muslim, although Islam there is different than in Arab lands. Their alphabet used to be Arabic, just as it was in Turkey. So if Turkey has issues with EU, Kazakhstan would be out of question, in my opinion. Genetically Turks of Turkey are closer to local European cultures such as Eastern Europeans and Greeks as well as Caucasians and Arabs, but Kazakhs are mostly Asiatic Turkic and part Mongolian. So there is very few historical continuity of shared history, culture and genetics with Europe for Kazakhs. It has some historical ties with Russia as both are successor states of Mongol Khanates, but the space is Turkic Kazakh steppes, as opposed to the land of Rus. And of course there is still about 25% Russians living there, although the ratio is steadily going down, and it has a customs union with Russia. So this Russian influence is another reason why its EU inclusion is out of question.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Jun 2010 at 21:10
Originally posted by eventhorizon eventhorizon wrote:

Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

Why do your conglomerations have to be contiguous? Why not, for instance, Spain with Latin America? All Code Napoléon countries? All Anglo-Saxon common law contries?
 
And so on.


Its because long distance relationship are difficult. As fantasus likes to say, geography plays a big role in forming character, as much as previous history of culture, so an Anglo American is closer to an Anglo Canadian but much farther from a British, an Australian or a New Zealander anglo. It costs money, energy and time to transport people and goods to keep up personal or business relationship, whereas it is more efficient to create local relationships. So just like blood relatives living faraway people eventually drift away except for meeting on yearly vacation or holidays. Local genetic contribution, large or small also plays a role in this drift. The Spanish or Portuguese colonies in South and Central America and Philippines, had tremendous intermixing with the locals, but later French or Anglo colonies, as a policy avoided this race mixing to a large extent.

So as much as the British likes to imagine being at the center of the commonwealth (former British Empire) universe, the tunnel under English channel and the proximity of European mainland, makes its role in EU and Euro zone inevitable.

The only exceptions are islands like Hawaii or smaller ones that are maintained far-away for strategic and military reasons. But if they had any significant population then the above rules would apply. For this reason, Australia and New Zealand attract large number of immigrants from nearby Asian countries and their business and commercial tie with Asia is also getting deeper. For that matter Hawaii also attracted a huge Japanese, Korean, Philipino or other Asian immigrant community.
 
But geographically contiguous areas tend to have similar climates, and raw materials and agriculture. That leaves them as not self-sufficient (in particular for instance consider the middle east).
 
While Australia and New Zealand's ties to Asia may be getting deeper isn't that true of pretty well every country? (Not that other countries, like Britain, haven't had close economic/business ties with Asia for centuries.)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Jun 2010 at 22:37
Originally posted by eventhorizon eventhorizon wrote:

Originally posted by fantasus fantasus wrote:

Originally posted by eventhorizon eventhorizon wrote:

You may want to look at:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Europe
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geography_of_Europe
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borders_of_the_continents
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_spanning_more_than_one_continent
This tells us little if anything about an eventual european "system" andwhat should be so special about it.


I think Europe traces its origins in the early Greek and Roman imperial experience, which includes the outsider "barbarians" who eventually became its part, such as Huns, Vikings or Germans.

So Russia which traces its origin in Kievan Rus, and became part of Mongol Khanates as opposed being a part of Polish Lithuanian empire, has a different point of genesis. Many Russian Boyar aristocrats have part Tatar and Turkic origins.

The development of a separate and unique Russian Orthodox church, as a successor to the fallen Greek Orthodox church in Constantinople as its new torch bearer, may have something do with this separation from Europe, but it also happens to be one of Russians ties to Europe proper.

The other difference in Russia is its colonial expansion in the South and East. The Southern Central Asian lands have separated from Russia, but the Eastern Siberian expanse and its Asiatic inhabitants though small in number makes Russia more multi ethnic, so does the non Russian inhabitants of Caucasus, who never fully assimilated.

The vast land holding of Russia, with the largest land mass under a single nation state or single majority ethnic group, also makes Russia a unique phenomenon, that makes it feel more like an empire and thus reluctant to become a poor second class European.

So it is possible that Russia and immediate neighbor states may consider themselves part of Europe and become part of EU in the far future, but for the time being, Russia, and possibly Belarus and Ukraine may remain separate from Europe. The case for the Caucasian states such as Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan are also difficult because of Russian concerns.

The case of Turkey, as the former Ottoman core successor state, is also interesting. It is just not any other state, but the heart of a former Muslim empire, that threatened all of Europe, so there is a question of whether Europe assimilates Turkey or Turkey assimilates Europe, although Europe apparently seems much bigger in size and population. Besides EU has its hands full with integration of the new member states to take on a new challenge like this. Some claim that Turkey is also not ready. So the time for Turkey's accession is probably decades away, even if it eventually happens, which is a big if, considering current EU public opinion.

For the time being, Turkey seems to want to become a global trader like the Koreans or Japanese, a non-aligned leader, as well as reviving its sphere of influence in former non-european Ottoman lands, and in Turkic Central Asia, the land of its romanticized Turkic ancestors.

Kazakhstan, is majority Kazakh, who just 70-80 years ago, were living in Yurts and raising sheep, horses etc. and of course they are almost 100% Muslim, although Islam there is different than in Arab lands. Their alphabet used to be Arabic, just as it was in Turkey. So if Turkey has issues with EU, Kazakhstan would be out of question, in my opinion. Genetically Turks of Turkey are closer to local European cultures such as Eastern Europeans and Greeks as well as Caucasians and Arabs, but Kazakhs are mostly Asiatic Turkic and part Mongolian. So there is very few historical continuity of shared history, culture and genetics with Europe for Kazakhs. It has some historical ties with Russia as both are successor states of Mongol Khanates, but the space is Turkic Kazakh steppes, as opposed to the land of Rus. And of course there is still about 25% Russians living there, although the ratio is steadily going down, and it has a customs union with Russia. So this Russian influence is another reason why its EU inclusion is out of question.
Then it seems to me that when You discuss a "european system" this to some degree the same as the European Union? If so we should remember not all of Europe, not even all of the western part of that region, is part of the EU. Switzerland and Norway are such western European non-members. Iceland may be regarded as "true european" or "atlantic" depending on preferences, but then there is the southeastern non members, Albania, serbia croatia etcetera.
It is also a big question to what degree the Unions members should be regarded as "similar" before membership. Perhaps it is rather membership of the union that makes the impression of some degree  of similarity. The Eu may be a rather "artificial" entity (if it is "good" or "desirable" is another question - artifacts can after all both be benign or the opposite).
Historically the creation of the EU may have much to do with the relative decline of former european hegemony in several ways: First to the two superpowers of the cold war, and secondly to the anticolonial movements, and then later to the rise of east Asian economies, the cooperation of oil exporting countries. In other words there may be some defensive motives.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote eventhorizon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Jun 2010 at 08:44
Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

 
But geographically contiguous areas tend to have similar climates, and raw materials and agriculture. That leaves them as not self-sufficient (in particular for instance consider the middle east).
 
While Australia and New Zealand's ties to Asia may be getting deeper isn't that true of pretty well every country? (Not that other countries, like Britain, haven't had close economic/business ties with Asia for centuries.)


Its true that contiguous areas have similar climate, raw materials and agriculture, but self sufficiency may not be a first line priority for large systems, so all large systems engage in trade, more or less, whether its exporting of manufactured goods and importing of raw material or energy for large systems like China, Korea, Japan, EU, US etc. or its exporting of raw materials and importing of manufactured goods for large systems such as Sub Sharan African Union (proposed) or Latin American Union (proposed).

The prime concern for any large system or regional group is to eventually form a single state, like the United States, and it can only happen, if people have some ethno linguistic affinity, shared history of living under one state or some practical consideration for a small state to join a bigger neighbor out of survival necessity.

Asia is home to a large portion of global human population, so yes their migration to other large systems will continue to increase. But migration happens to closer large systems, so migration of Latin Americans are common in the US, African migration is more common in EU and Asian migration more common in ANZ.


Edited by eventhorizon - 09 Jun 2010 at 11:17
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote eventhorizon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Jun 2010 at 09:30
Originally posted by fantasus fantasus wrote:

Then it seems to me that when You discuss a "european system" this to some degree the same as the European Union? If so we should remember not all of Europe, not even all of the western part of that region, is part of the EU. Switzerland and Norway are such western European non-members. Iceland may be regarded as "true european" or "atlantic" depending on preferences, but then there is the southeastern non members, Albania, serbia croatia etcetera.
It is also a big question to what degree the Unions members should be regarded as "similar" before membership. Perhaps it is rather membership of the union that makes the impression of some degree  of similarity. The Eu may be a rather "artificial" entity (if it is "good" or "desirable" is another question - artifacts can after all both be benign or the opposite).
Historically the creation of the EU may have much to do with the relative decline of former european hegemony in several ways: First to the two superpowers of the cold war, and secondly to the anticolonial movements, and then later to the rise of east Asian economies, the cooperation of oil exporting countries. In other words there may be some defensive motives.


Of course by European large system, I mean the EU, which dreams to be a United States of Europe. Switzerland, Norway or Iceland, will become members when the advantages of staying out will diminish over time. About the  Balkan states, they are historically slavic countries and are part of the Orthodox church (Albania is mostly Muslim despite the fact that there is a Albanian Orthodox church and they are also not slavic so it will be more tilted towards EU), so they may naturally go with a Russian large system, but their experience under Ottoman empire pulled them away from Russia and tilted them more towards Europe proper, if I am not mistaken.

The bulk of European population such as Spain, Italy, France, Germany, UK, Greece and Eastern Europe were part of the many incarnations of Roman empire(s), so I would argue that despite language differences, there is some common history among most people on the European continent. So an integrated EU is not just good for Europe, but is also a role model for other regional large systems to follow.

When you say defensive motive, you are pointing to an important European concern after WW II:

- that globe spanning maritime mercantile empires with civilizing missions had become obsolete as the natives have woken up from their slumber and are no longer willing to accept the master race to do their bidding
- large systems like US, Soviet Union (former), China, India are rising and are becoming obvious competitive threats for European countries
- large systems like South Korea and Japan are in the same scale with large European nations like UK, France or Germany, so if the threat was from these nations an EU was not needed, but its the other big ones mentioned above that were threatening or upsetting the international balance

By the same token, other than the existing very large systems (US, China and India), which are all doing remarkably well (not a coincidence according to my hypothesis), most smaller nations are pinched by this phenomenon, that they are being cornered by these big threatening nations. So naturally as a reaction to this situation, an EU, an ASEAN, an LAU (Latin America), an SSAU (hopefully in Africa), a Maghreb (possible), a GCC, a CAU (in Central Asia) etc. are forming so nations can band together and thus balance some of the inherent tilt and imbalance of the world situation which is in favor of the larger systems.

It is important to note that most aspiring large system regional groups have one or more key pivotal influential players which is (or are) larger than other nation states such as Brazil in LAU, US in North American Union (of Canada and USA), Germany, UK and France in EU, Russia in a CIS large system,  Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan in CAU, Nigeria, South Africa and Ethiopia in SSAU, Egypt in Maghreb, Saudi Arabia and Iraq in GCC, India in SAARC, Indonesia in ASEAN and Australia in Oceania.

So, yes your statement is an important key point in this whole phenomenon towards regionalism:

"Historically the creation of the EU may have much to do with the relative decline of former european hegemony in several ways: First to the two superpowers of the cold war, and secondly to the anticolonial movements, and then later to the rise of east Asian economies, the cooperation of oil exporting countries. In other words there may be some defensive motives."
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