30 November 2005

Gettin' Shet o' Mah Accint

Macon.com carries an AP report on Southerners shifting their accents.
COLUMBIA, S.C. - "Y'all" isn't welcome in Erica Tobolski's class in voice and diction at the University of South Carolina. And forget about "fixin'," as in getting ready to do something, or "pin" when talking about the writing instrument.

Tobolski's class is all about getting rid of accents, mostly Southern ones in the heart of the former Confederacy, and replacing them with Standard American Dialect, the uninflected tone of TV news anchors that oozes authority and refinement.

"We sort of avoid talking about class in this country, but clearly class is indicated by how we speak," she said....

Across the fast-growing South, accents are under assault, and not just from the modern-day Henry Higginses of academia. There's the flood of transplants from other regions, notions of Southern upward mobility that require dropping the drawl, and stereotypes that "y'alls" and "suhs" signal low status or lack of intelligence.

But is the Southern accent really disappearing?

That depends what accent you mean. The South, because of its rural, isolated past, boasts a diversity of dialects, from Appalachian twangs in several states to Elizabethan lilts in Virginia to Cajun accents in Louisiana to African-influenced Gullah accents on the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina.

One accent that has been all but wiped out is the slow juleps-in-the-moonlight drawl favored by Hollywood portrayals of the South. To find that so-called plantation accent in most parts of the region nowadays requires a trip to the video store....

Georgia-bred humorist Roy Blount Jr. understands that people with strong Southern accents are often perceived as "slow and dimwitted." But he thinks it's "sort of a shame" that people should feel the need to soften or even lose their accents.

"My father, who was a surely intelligent man, would say `cain't'. He wouldn't say `can't.' And, `There ain't no way, just there ain't no way.' You don't want to say, `There isn't any way.' That just spoils the whole thing," Blount said.
It shore do! My Tidewater-Virginia-raised, college-and-seminary-educated father still says `cain't'--and some of his kin keep the small class of `ahn' words together, pronouncing aunt `aint', aren't `ain't', and maybe even haunted 'hainted'. He also resorts to compounds to distinguish `inkpin' from `stickpin'.

But I made a concerted effort to purge `cain't' and other Southernisms from my speech when I was a kid, especially when I was away at a Canadian boarding school in Japan, where I also teased other Southern missionary kids who came back from furlough with their accents in full bloom.

By the time I went off to college, I had acquired one of those 'no-accent' accents. Most people cain't place my accent when I challenge them to--beyond general American, of course. My wife, who grew up in the Dakotas and Minnesota, also has one of those 'no-accent' accents, unlike her two sisters, who respectively exhibit those unmistakable Minnesota and Wisconsin shibboleth vowels. And my daughter is acutely aware of my distinctive upglide on the mid front vowels of measure, treasure, and leisure.

My maternal Shenandoah Valley-accented cousins, however, found my wife's accent most charming. My mother remembered as a kid having to practice moderating her regional diphthongs by repeating "How now brown cow"--distinctive but not quite the same sound or phonetic environment (before voiceless consonants) as the near "Canadian raising" that Sen. Warner (R-VA) just demonstrated in his interview on the NewsHour tonight. (He talked about 'sitting out', 'waiting out' and 'getting out' with respect to Iraq.)

I liked listening to the marked regional accent of Sen. Reed (D-RI), too. In fact, most of the time, I tend to tune out the content when politicians bloviate on TV and concentrate instead on pinpointing their accentual differences. One of my favorite accents on the NewsHour, though, is that of Alabama native Jan Crawford Greenburg. Unfortunately, her perceptive analyses of the Supreme Court often distract me from her accent.

via Atlanta-based Photodude

29 November 2005

Gaseous Emissions about Kyoto

The UN's climate change secretariat has compiled some very revealing statistics about greenhouse gas emissions in the wake of the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol. As reported by the Toronto Globe and Mail, Canada and New Zealand, which have not only signed the Protocol but chided their respective neighbors for not signing it, are doing no better at reining in their greenhouse gasses than Australia, which refused to sign the treaty. (Canada's emissions were up 24.2%, Australia's up 23.3%, New Zealand's up 22.5%.) Furthermore, the U.S., which refused to sign, is neck and neck with Japan, where the final version of the Protocol was hashed out. (U.S. emissions have risen 13.3%, Japan's 12.8%.)
The report shows that a huge, one-time greenhouse gas reduction occurred after the economic collapse of the former Communist countries. The former East Bloc's emissions fell from 5.7 billion tonnes in 1990 to 3.4 billion tonnes in 2003, a stunning drop equivalent to eliminating three times Canada's total annual contribution to warming the planet.

But since the early 1990s, most countries in the East and West have muddled along, making little headway in weaning themselves from their fossil-fuel dependency.

Excluding the former East Bloc, emissions among industrialized countries actually rose 9.2 per cent between 1990 and 2003.
How the hell did Spain, Monaco, and Portugal manage to increase their emissions by 36.7% to 41.7%? And Britain's growing economy to reduce its emissions by 13%? Why did the UN include no statistics on China and India?

I guess the moral of this story is that actions speak louder than sanctimonious emissions.

Effects of Medieval Climate Change

In south central England, ... the century from 1180 to 1280 had been the medieval golden age because of favorable climatic conditions. The climate of the northern hemisphere, including England, experiences alternating cycles of warming and cooling. A warming trend had set in during the early twelfth century and it reached its height in the century after 1180. It was a time of long, warm summers and moderate winters. There always seemed to be enough rain to make the cereal crops sprout fervently. There were no crop failures or famines....

The downside of good weather and sharply rising population was an unprecedented boom in agricultural real estate. The thirteenth century in England was a time of land hunger.... Millions of acres were deforested and settled with peasant villages....

Climatic cycling continued to drive social and economic change. Around 1280 the warming trend began to run down. A new weather cycle unevenly but visibly intruded into rural England. Summers became cooler and shorter, the long autumns ideal for bringing in the lush crops truncated. Winters became longer and more harsh. The cooler period was to last until the late fifteenth century, when it would be followed by another warm century and then the "little ice age" of the seventeenth century, when people actually skated on the frozen Thames--not something you would want to try today.

In the summers of 1316 and 1317 rural disaster struck. The sun did not shine. There were widespread crop failures. There was famine and death from hunger. These terrible years had a special cause. Huge volcanic eruptions in Indonesia threw continent-sized clouds of ashes into the atmosphere and by 1316 this cloud of unbeing had reached England. Even when the sun shone again and the famine subsided, there were adverse weather conditions--too much rain--for good cereal harvests. The price of grain escalated. The stomachs of the peasants were no longer full....

It may be speculated that the Great Famine and global cooling of the early fourteenth century and the deterioration in the diet of the common people that resulted had some adverse impact on public health. Undernourished bodies were more easily prey to the Black Death.
SOURCE: In the Wake of the Plague: The Black Death & the World It Made, by Norman F. Cantor (Harper Perennial, 2002), pp. 67-68, 74-75

My Malaria Tales

In 1976, I got a chance to do linguistic fieldwork in Papua New Guinea. PNG is a malaria zone, so I tried to get antimalarials before I left, but hardly any doctors in Honolulu knew about either malaria or PNG, and they wouldn't prescribe anything unless it was for treatment, not prevention. So my first day in Sydney, en route, I went to a public hospital and waited a long time to see a doctor. (Australia, like Canada, gives free but limited medical coverage to everybody.) When the doctor finally saw me, he asked me all sorts of questions about PNG because he was to spend part of his residency there, but he said state policy was to give only one week's worth of medicine at a time free. So I got just two Chloroquine pills, one week's prophylactic dose. I was due to arrive in PNG within the week.

In PNG I had no trouble buying Chloroquine at a local chemist (pharmacy) and took them faithfully every Sunday. For months, I was fine. The only problem I had was early on, when my intestinal flora were changing to accommodate the local diet. I got the runs one night really bad. The village was maybe 100 yards from end to end, with the women's outhouse out over the water (flushed twice a day by the tide) near my end of the village and the men's outhouse clear at the other end of the village, across a coconut log bridge over the stream that served as the village's only supply of fresh, cold mountain water. The men's bathing hole was upstream from the women's bathing, laundry, and dishwashing area, and people were really careful not to shit near the river. That night, I must have walked through the dark village 6 or 8 times, setting off the dogs each time, but not always having much to feed the fish with by the time I climbed up into the four-hole outhouse and squatted over the ocean. So, before long, I'd start the long trek back, setting off the dogs again.

I slept under a mosquito net in the village, although not always when I took trips to the neighboring village where several kids from my host family went to school. (They boarded there.) One day during August (I think), I felt really feverish, with flu symptoms, but the next day I felt better, so I let the village boat, with its loud, 2-stroke, Japanese Yanmar diesel engine, leave for town without me. It was an 8-hour trip up the coast to Lae, where the boat would sell its catch of fish, fill up with ice for the next catch, take on supplies and passengers, and be back in a week. That evening after I went for my customary bath in the stream, I couldn't stop shivering. My hosts built up the fire and I hunkered down next to it until the shivers turned to sweat. By that time, I figured I'd better take a treatment dose of Chloroquine: 2 pills every 4-6 hours, rather than 2 pills every week. In a day or two the flu symptoms abated and I broke out instead with intense itching under the skin of my hands and feet. It hurt to walk over the rough path to the bathing hole. So the next time the boat came back to load up and take more fish and passengers, I was on board.

The doctor I saw in town thought maybe I had reacted to the Chloroquine, so he put me on milder Camoquine and, sure enough, the next time I came down with malaria symptoms and took a treatment dose, at least I didn't have that horrible itch. (By now many strains of malaria in PNG are resistent to both.) But the timing was bad. I had come into town about Thanksgiving time, and my host, an American with an MA in ESL from Hawai‘i, had fixed up a real American meal with turkey, deviled eggs, and pumpkin pies. My throat was swollen, it hurt to swallow, and I was too sick to join the crowd for dinner, so I went off to bed. That night my fever broke and I soaked the sheets. The next day I felt much better--and ravenous. Fortunately, there were leftovers of everything except the deviled eggs. I ate a lot, but swallowed carefully.

Back in Honolulu, I got another severe bout of malaria. By this time, I knew the whole cycle real well--24 hours of fever and chills followed by 24 hours of dull headache. It was sure to be Plasmodium vivax, according to Merck's Manual, so I managed to get referred to a Dr. Berman, the only civilian doctor in town who knew much of anything about malaria. (He had seen plenty of it as an Army doctor in Vietnam.) So I drove to the emergency room of the hospital where he was supposed to start a shift at 7 pm. He took a long time getting to me and I spent the whole time shivering under the air-conditioning vent in the examination room, trying to cover myself with little hand towels.

When Berman finally saw me, I made the mistake of telling him I was suffering from P. vivax and asking for a treatment dose of Camoquine or its equivalent. He sent me for a blood test, but couldn't find anything, so he sent me away for another 48 hours until I would be in worse shape again. When he couldn't see anything in that sample, either, he told me to come back when I was really in the throes of fever and chills. So at the peak of the next 48-hour cycle, I was driving shakily through traffic to his downtown office. This time, he managed to find the little buggers under the microscope. He returned with a sarcastic "Congratulations, Dr. Outlier. Your diagnosis is correct. It's Plasmodium vivax." Whereupon, I let him have it, telling him each of those 3 lab tests cost me $24 that my grad student health insurance didn't cover, and that I had been through a week's worth of the symptoms a 3rd time now, thanks to him. I think he ended up waiving any of his own fees above what my health insurance covered. He also prescribed some very powerful drug that was supposed to clear the creatures out of my liver as well. I've never had a relapse since then.

28 November 2005

What 14th-century Medicine Could Do

Fourteenth-century medicine was not without accomplishment. It could amputate limbs and normally cauterize the wounds in an effective manner. It had precious knowledge of herbal remedies for headache, minor stomachaches, menstrual cramps, and other marginal afflictions, possibly including psychological depression. But it was impotent in the face of an epidemic.

Medieval physicians still followed the theories of the second-century Greek doctor Galen, which attributed disease to imbalance in the bodily conditions, or "humours," of an individual. The main instrument of diagnosis was eyeballing the color and consistency of urine.

The prime remedies for illnesses involved restoration of putative bodily balance through purgation (enemas) or bloodletting. Drawing blood from a sick patient was considered a credible remedy until the nineteenth century. Cleaning the bowels was thought to have a curative effect. Enemas are still a popular home remedy. Nineteenth-century medicine introduced antiseptic surgery and anesthesia and smallpox inoculation but in the face of a pandemic outbreak was not much better off than the physicians of fourteenth-century England.

Faced with a worldwide outbreak of what was arbitrarily called Spanish influenza in 1918, which killed fifty million people within a year, the early twentieth-century medical profession was not much more effective in terms of diagnosis and cure than its medieval counterpart facing the Black Death. Essentially the flu pandemic of 1918 came and went without anyone knowing why, in spite of the capacity to see under a microscope some viruses and bacteria that were totally invisible to the physicians of the fourteenth century.
SOURCE: In the Wake of the Plague: The Black Death & the World It Made, by Norman F. Cantor (Harper Perennial, 2002), pp. 9-10

Cantor is no Tuchman, but I'll see if I can find a few passages to excerpt, even if I have to rearrange them to counteract the author's tendency to ramble about.

Should the U.S. Push for Korean Unification?

Dartmouth professor David C. Kang suggests a new tack in U.S. policy toward Korea in today's Washington Post.
The United States can improve its position in East Asia, as well as solidify its alliance with South Korea, by widening its focus beyond North Korean denuclearization and coming out strongly and enthusiastically in favor of Korean unification. Although the United States rhetorically supports unification, it has been noticeably passive in pursuing policy to that end.

Such a policy shift would achieve many U.S. goals and would strengthen our alliance with South Korea in the process.

First and foremost, denuclearization is far more likely to occur with a change in North Korea's regime and a resolution to the Korean War than it is without resolving that larger issue. Until now the United States has put denuclearization first, without making much progress. Folding the nuclear issue into the larger issue would provide far more leverage on both questions and potentially create new or broader areas for progress.

Second, such a policy would provide grounds for agreement between U.S. and South Korean policymakers from which they could cooperate and work together, rather than against each other. Exploring the best path toward unification will require both economic and military changes in the North -- changes that will provide the United States with more flexibility to rebalance its own forces in the region.

Finally, it would put the United States in a solid position to retain goodwill and influence in Korea after unification -- something that is far from ensured today, when many South Koreans are skeptical about U.S. attitudes and policies toward the region. If the United States is seen as a major source of help for unification, it is far more likely that the post-unification orientation of Korea will be favorable to Washington.

This would be a major policy change for the United States, but given the importance of the region and of the Korean Peninsula, it is the best path to follow.
I don't know how many times I've heard younger South Koreans imply--not very subtly--that the U.S. and Japan are the principal obstacles to Korean unification. Those two enemy countries just want to keep Korea divided to weaken it. Otherwise Korea would clearly dominate northeast Asia. In contrast, the addled leadership of the bankrupt brother state to the north strongly supports unification--on its own terms, of course.

I suppose Kang's suggestion wouldn't hurt. Talk is cheap, after all, although you wouldn't know it from the incredible verbal parsimony of the Bush administration. But what concrete measures should follow from this policy headfake? The U.S. is also officially in favor of a unified China, but not a violently unified one.

Perhaps South Koreans, too, need to consider more fully the "post-unification orientation" of their suffering compatriots trapped in the time-frozen north.

25 November 2005

Sad Fate of the Kwangju Police Chief in 1980

Antti Leppäsen at Hunjangûi karûch'im offers a poignant glimpse at the sad fate of An Byeong-ha, chief of police in Kwangju at the time of the uprising and its brutal suppression in May 1980. An refused orders to use overwhelming force and paid for his courageous stand by being arrested and tortured so badly that he never recovered his health until the day he died in 1988.

Kotooshu Gets Some of His Own Back

FUKUOKA (Kyodo) Bulgarian sekiwake Kotooshu exacted swift revenge over rampant grand champion Asashoryu on Friday by handing the Mongolian his first defeat on the 13th day of the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament in Fukuoka.

Kotooshu (10-3) erased the painful memory of his playoff defeat to the bruiser from Ulan Bator at the autumn meet in September as he stood firm at the charge and overpowered the yokozuna (12-1) at the edge to all but guarantee promotion to ozeki.

The win also gave fresh hope to ozeki Chiyotaikai (11-2) who sits one win off the pace after winning an all-ozeki battle against Kaio.

Given their history and Asashoryu's recent dominance, especially in Fukuoka, Kotooshu was obviously pleased with his efforts.

"I lost twice to him (Asashoryu) last time so badly wanted to win this one," said Kotooshu.

The key to the win, Kotooshu added, was an aggressive and unrelenting style. "I was able to go on attack and wrestle the way I wanted to so I'm delighted. I think I've been able to relax a bit since I got a winning record," added the 22-year-old pin-up.

Kotooshu also denied Asashoryu the chance to set a new record of 83 wins in a year, surpassing the 82 that equaled the previous record set by former yokozuna Kitanoumi in 1978.

24 November 2005

Wontack Hong on Early Korea-Japan Relations

Over the past couple decades, Wontack Hong, a professor of economics at Seoul National University, has been slowly building, revising, and strengthening a case for heavy migration from the Korean Peninsula into the Japanese Archipelago during what is now known as the Yayoi period. Hong further contends that the earliest rulers of Yamato came from the Peninsula. (I'm trying carefully to avoid using the misleading modern terms 'Korean' and 'Japanese' for peoples of that era.)

When I first became aware of his work, about a decade ago, I wondered whether it would achieve academic respectability among archeologists and historians. Of course, Hong's thesis remains very controversial, but his efforts seem now to be taken seriously by reputable specialists in the early prehistory of the Peninsula and the Archipelago. Such specialists include University of Denver archaeologist Sarah M. Nelson, Wesleyan University art historian Jonathan Best, and University of Hawai‘i linguist Leon Serafim, who have reviewed Hong's earlier books, Relationship between Korea and Japan in Early Period: Paekche and Yamato Wa (1988) and Paekche of Korea and the Origin of Yamato Japan (1994). However, Hong does quote with evident pride an assessment by Gari Ledyard, King Sejong Professor of Korean Studies Emeritus at Columbia University: "Wontack Hong writes outside the community of Korean historians of Korea."

Now, Prof. Hong has a new book in the works. A Korean version (古代韓日關係史: 百濟倭) appeared in 2003, and an English version appears to be close to ready for publication. The latter is entitled "Korea and Japan in East Asian History: Paekche of the Korean Peninsula and the Origin of the Yamato Kingdom in the Japanese Islands." Here are few snippets from its foreword and introduction.

From the Foreword:
About 400 BC, mountain glaciers started to re-advance, with cooler conditions persisting until 300 AD. The beginning of a Little Ice Age coincides with the great Celtic migrations in the west end of the Eurasian continent and the Warring States period in the east end. In 390 BC, the fierce Celtic warriors known as Gauls had besieged Rome itself. The Little Ice Age produced the heyday of the Roman Empire located in the warm Mediterranean zone and the Han Empire in mainland China. There followed a drought period of maximum intensity in the Mediterranean, North Africa and far to the east into Asia around 300-400 AD. The period of 300-400 AD coincides with the great Germanic folk migrations in the west end and the Five Barbarians and Sixteen States period in the east end.

The migration of rice farmers from the southern Korean peninsula into the Japanese islands and the commencement of the Yayoi period (ca. 300 BC-300 AD) had coincided with the beginning of a Little Ice Age. I contend that the conquest of the Japanese islands and establishment of the Yamato kingdom by the Paekche people from the Korean peninsula occurred some time between 300-400 AD. That is, the commencement of the Tomb Period (ca. 300-700 AD) on the Japanese islands by the people from the Korean peninsula coincides with a global drought period of maximum intensity.
From the Introduction:
The Paleolithic Ainu in the Japanese archipelago were bound to encounter the Malayo-Polynesians arriving through the sea route of Philippines-Taiwan-Ryukyu islands, giving rise together to the Neolithic Jōmon culture of hunting-fishing-gathering (ca. 10,000-300 BC). They were joined eventually by the people coming from the Korean peninsula, all of them together commencing the Bronze-Iron Yayoi era of rice cultivation (ca. 300 BC-300 AD).

The early history of the Japanese islands reveals some conspicuous parallels with that of the British Isles at the other end of the Eurasian continent. During the 600-year Yayoi period, Korean influences penetrated to the Japanese islands as visibly as the influences of the Anglo-Saxon on Celtic Britain and, during the next 400-year Tomb period of 300-700 AD, changes came as swiftly and strongly as the Norman Conquest of England. Then the parallel with the British Isles fades away. The Korean influences on the Japanese islands petered out thereafter, resulting in a brief period of active importation of Tang Chinese culture by the Yamato court followed by a prolonged period of isolation, producing a fairly unique indigenous culture through internal evolution. As a cultural periphery in an anthropological context, old outmoded habits and institutions have been tenaciously preserved in the Japanese islands, a spectacular example of which is, as Reischauer (1973: 325) states, “the survival of the imperial family as the theoretical source of all political authority for a millennium after it had lost all real political power.”

Foreign Dispatches on Korea's Colonial Economy

Abiola Lapite at Foreign Dispatches has posted a long and provocative essay on the Korean economy under Japanese rule, comparing it favorably against the record of British colonialism in Africa.
Although it is hardly ever mentioned today, the truth was that the Japanese could so take for granted Korean complicity in their aggression in Manchuria that the Japanese government was willing to heavily subsidize the settlement of Korean rice farmers in the region. For every anti-Japanese nationalist operating behind Chinese or Soviet lines (and nearly all of whom were communists), there were probably 5 to 10 Koreans active in doing their bit to prove their loyalty to Imperial Japan while advancing their personal prospects. As with French claims of resistance after the war, most post-war claims of resistance to Japanese rule in Korea are nothing but self-serving lies, which is the reason why the attempt at a "collaborator" witch-hunt by Roh Moo-hyun's Uri Party was so laughable: it would have meant the indictment of pretty much the entire class of educated or enterprising Koreans who existed prior to the end of Japanese rule.

In closing, let me make clear that I don't wish to imply that the Japanese annexation of Korea was done as an act of charity or that any number of material improvements to a people's standard of living justifies conquering them, nor am I trying to claim that Japan's rule wasn't harsh, repressive and discriminatory, which by any reasonable definition it was. The point of all of the above is that the mainstream take on the colonial period amongst the Korea populace today is horrendously misleading and pretty much designed to keep anti-Japanese sentiments aflame rather than to get at the truth of Korea's colonial experience: to give but one example of how distorted Korean history is, Japanese rule was not a uniquely brutal phase of Korea's history, with torture and repression both long predating and following on the period when Japan ran the country. If Koreans want the Japanese to be more honest about the past, the least they can do is to take their own advice rather than perpetuating a picture of history so blatantly false it only serves to bolster the credibility of Japan's extreme right: if you discover that you've been lied to on a grand scale by one of two parties, it's only natural to suspect that the other side is much closer to the truth.

23 November 2005

Secular Condescension, Liturgical Mindfulness

Of all the institutions in their lives, only the Catholic Church has seemed aware of the fact that my mother and father are thinkers--persons aware of the experience of their lives. Other institutions--the nation's political parties, the industries of mass entertainment and communications, the companies that employed them--have all treated my parents with condescension. The Church too has treated them badly when it attempted formal instruction. The homily at Sunday mass, intended to give parishioners basic religious instruction, has often been poorly prepared and aimed at a childish listener. It has been the liturgical Church that has excited my parents. In ceremonies of public worship, they have been moved, assured that their lives--all aspects of their lives, from waking to eating, from birth until death, all moments--possess great significance. Only the liturgy has encouraged them to dwell on the meaning of their lives. To think.
SOURCE: Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez, by Richard Rodriguez (Bantam Books, 1982), p. 96

I've certainly done more than my share of condescension toward religious beliefs and believers. My only defense is that I have never done so from a position of authority--unless one grants undue authority on religious matters to those with more years of strictly secular education, which the latter all too frequently arrogate to themselves. (I should say "ourselves" for, here again, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.)

I strongly suspect that the strong resurgence of religion in the public sphere over the last few decades is a reaction to the mounting failures of resolutely secular governments--whether communist, socialist, capitalist, or Baathist--whose policies toward religion have ranged from dismissive condescension, at best, to brutal suppression, at worst. The collapse of communism, the most powerful secular religion of the 20th century, was the largest of the secular dominoes to fall.

Of course, theocracies like Iran seem, like others before them, to have managed to create a strong resurgence of secularism. But do we really need to go that far before finding a reasonable balance, with mutual respect?

22 November 2005

Japan's Very Effective Thought War

In last Sunday's Japan Times, Donald Richie reviews The Thought War: Japanese Imperial Propaganda, by Barak Kushner (U. Hawai‘i Press, 2006).
This completely individual and very interesting account of the uses of propaganda in Japan concludes with the observation that it would be historically naive to pretend that Japan had changed overnight after its defeat in World War II. After all, Japan has had a very long history of socially mobilizing its people....

Modernization, it was thought, would put Japan on the same level as those imperialistic powers that were perceived as menacing Asia. Hence the useful concept of the Far East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere, a structure that envisioned a completely modern Japan shepherding the needs of a still backward Asia.

Here propaganda had new uses. For Japan, the problem of convincing China that Japan's mission was to liberate Asia hinged on the idea of "shisosen" or "the thought war." This was the term consistently used to describe the fight for ideological supremacy in Asia and later against the West....

Japan's Asian adventures ... had majority national support. A hapless populace in the grip of a relentless military machine is a later conception. During the war itself, popular support was strong -- the population believed in its mission.

Japan, says the author, had -- largely through propaganda -- mobilized its population to an extent unattainable in Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, or Franco's Spain. Japan faced little discontent, no attempted coups, and very few intellectuals and anti-fascists fleeing the country.

Consequently, perhaps, Japanese wartime propaganda survived the war. This was because a small coterie of bureaucratic cronies did not dominate, as they did in Nazi Germany. Instead, a large body of individuals created both the wartime and the postwar propaganda.

Tokyo Teacher Punished Over War History

I've refused to be alarmed about reports over resurgent Japanese nationalism, especially in light of the full-throttle nationalism of Japan's nearest neighbors, but a story in the Christian Science Monitor on 22 November 2005 really does raise my hackles.
TOKYO – Miyako Masuda is a 23-year veteran of public schools here. Like many Japanese history teachers of her generation, she dislikes new textbooks that frame Japan as the victim in World War II. It bothers her that books claiming America caused the war are now adopted by an entire city ward. In fact, Masuda disapproves of the whole nationalist direction of Tokyo public schools.

Yet until last year, Masuda, who calls herself "pretty ordinary," rarely went out of her way to disagree. Few teachers do.

But when a Tokyo city councilman in an official meeting said "Japan never invaded Korea," her history class sent an apology to Korean President Roh Moo-hyan [sic] - an action that sparked her removal from her classroom.

21 November 2005

Berman on the History of French Anti-Americanism

The meatiest book reviewed in Paul Berman's lengthy article in The New Republic entitled France's Failures, Hatreds, and Signs of a New Look at America: The Anti-Anti-Americans (free registration required) is Philippe Roger's The American Enemy: The History of French Anti-Americanism. Roger reminds us of historic French grievances about American ingratitude during the 18th and 19th centuries, not just American grievances about French ingratitude during the 20th century.
Roger recalls the history of French grievances against America, the actual hard-fact history--this history that Americans know nothing about and can hardly even imagine, though its stages are easily identified. There was the French feeling of horror and betrayal at the secret Jay Treaty of 1794, in which, despite France's crucial aid during the American Revolution, the United States made peace with the same Great Britain that was, at that very moment, waging war against revolutionary France. It is easy to see that, on this issue, the French had a point--especially so when you recognize that, whatever France's imperial ambitions may have been (namely, to conquer Europe and the Middle East, and to re-name these regions "France"), the French were undergoing a terrible pummeling.

Then came the struggles of the Napoleonic wars, and the French navy seized a great many American ships (a total of 558, by the American reckoning). And the United States demanded compensation afterward, and not in a small amount. President Andrew Jackson pursued this demand, and the French eventually agreed to pay, if only because Jackson threatened to seize French property in the United States. But, as Roger tells us, the argument over compensation to the United States aroused a tremendous anger in France--tremendous because the French had aided the United States in the past, and America ought to have allowed its feeling of gratitude to linger a little longer. And the resentment was owed to something more. For what was the meaning of France's revolutionary and Napoleonic wars?

France suffered. France's army was destroyed. France ended up under European occupation. Huge portions of the French population were killed. The defeat was spectacular and enormous. And here was the United States in the wake of these tragedies, demanding a money transfer from a somber and defeated France to the cheerful shores of a prosperous United States. The French Chamber of Deputies eventually agreed to pay, but their assent was bitter. Even the pro-Americans among them--Roger points to the poet Lamartine, a solid republican with excellent pro-American credentials--burned with resentment. An echo of this turns up, I would add, even in Tocqueville, who remarks that in the American War of Independence, the Americans endured nothing on the scale of French suffering a few years later.
And the same can be said of American vs. French sacrifices during the Great War, the war of Europe's lost generation.
By the turn of the twentieth century, it had become obvious that America was expanding its power all over the world, just as the European supporters of the old Confederacy had feared; and the sundry racial and cultural factors came to seem frighteningly dynamic. Woodrow Wilson seemed like a scary man, insane, imprisoned by his Christian fanaticism, and manipulated by Jewish financiers. The years that followed Wilson's intervention in France produced, in Roger's account, the high tide of anti-American literature. The United States was a racial horror, a machine-like menace, a disaster for the working class, a tool of the Jewish conspiracy, and so forth--all of which had a way of making America seem much more dangerous than Germany. These attitudes were upheld by people on the extreme right and by a number of independents who were neither right-wing nor left-wing, and, in the age of Pétain, these became the reigning attitudes.

Then again, Pétain's defeat and the catastrophe of the extreme right in France merely ended up producing still another wave of anti-Americanism, this time promoted by the communists, whose left-wing feelings were just as virulent as the old right-wing version. The United States, no longer a greater danger than Nazi Germany, was now the heir to Nazi Germany. "Truman, Hitler's authentic successor" was a communist slogan. The communists campaigned against blue jeans, Coca Cola, and Hollywood. The right-wing themes from between the wars were in these ways re-fitted for the postwar left, and the revised themes were massively disseminated....

In this fashion, a cultural tradition arose in which America was condemned for every possible reason and its opposite--condemned for being less advanced than Europe, which is to say, geographically and sociologically younger; and also for being ahead of Europe in its social development, which is to say, older. America was a country without values; and appallingly moralistic. Repulsive for being racist; and for mixing its races. America's democracy was a failure and a sham; and America was repeatedly said to have lately fallen away from its admirable democratic past. America was governed by a dictatorship of millionaires; or by a rabble of corner grocers. Worse than Hitler; or Hitler's heir; and either way a threat to humanism.

America was frightening because it was excessively powerful; and was repeatedly declared to be on the brink of collapse. America was bellicose; and its soldiers, cowardly. America was hopelessly Christian; and, beginning in the 1920s, America was, even so, dominated by Jews. Coldly calculating; and, at the same time, religiously insane. Talleyrand made the complaint about religious insanity at the very start of the American republic (he had fled to America in 1794 to escape the mass guillotinings that were mandated by France's new religion of the Goddess of Reason) in his witty remark that America featured thirty-two religions and only one dish, which was inedible. The remark about food was significant in itself, and suggested, as well, a larger complaint about the unattractive thinness of America's culture--a main theme of the anti-American accusation. And yet America's greatest danger to the world was also said to be its culture, which, despite its lack of appeal, was dangerously appealing, and was going to crush all other cultures.
Yet, after such a well-crafted stream of ironies, Berman concludes on a note very sympathetic to France.
Anyone who visits Berlin will recognize instantly that Germany is a nation that has suffered stupendous and unbearable defeats--a nation that has been reduced to rubble repeatedly by events, even if the Germans have themselves to blame for some of those events. A visitor to France will come away with no such impression. Rubble, in France? And yet it may be that France, too, is a nation covered with scars--a wounded nation, different from Germany only in France's gallant insistence that it is not a wounded nation. I turn the pages of Roger's history and the other books, and I contemplate Glucksmann's observations about the hatred that arises from a revulsion at one's own weakness, and it occurs to me that, instead of rubble, which the Germans have aplenty, the French possess the very remarkable literature that Roger and the others describe. Not exactly rubble, but a kind of wreckage--the literature of a wounded culture, expressing more than two hundred years of conscious and unconscious injury.
Will America be any more gracious by the turn of the next century, when perhaps China will have taken over the role of colossus bestriding the world?

Berman on Rigoulot on the Spirit of Vichy

Paul Berman's review article (free registration required) in The New Republic on several books by anti-anti-American French authors quotes a passage from Pierre Rigoulot's L'Antiaméricanisme: Critique d'un prêt-à-penser rétrograde et chauvin that Berman characterizes as "pretty ferocious":
Rigoulot ... thinks that the French intellectual and political elite, by muttering constantly about the evils of the United States, has rendered itself numb to any of the pricks of conscience that ought to have stimulated France into playing a more responsible role in the world.
This numbing, this reticence to take action, this refusal to take risks has a name: it is the spirit of Vichy. The spirit of Vichy continues to haunt France despite the defeat of the French state and the expiatory trials conducted during these last years. Vichy is not just complicity with the genocide of the Jews: it is a pacifist and past-oriented vision of the world. And it is above all a refusal to participate in the troubles and misfortunes that are engendered by all resistance and by any pursuit of a "warrior adventure." Vichy is the belief that one can remove oneself from history and from its necessarily tragic dimensions, the belief that one can evoke moral principles in order to avoid combat--yesterday against Nazism, today against radical Islamism. This spirit is stronger than ever.
And not just in France, of course. The normal response of most civilized people is not just to let sleeping dogs lie, but to keep rabid dogs outside the fence, beyond civilization. But fellow human beings also live out there, beyond the pale, down in the Gap. What is to be done about them?

The Satisfying Pleasures of Hatred

Paul Berman has a long and fascinating review article (free registration required) in The New Republic on several books by French authors whom he characterizes as "anti-anti-Americans." Here's a bit of what he has to say about André Glucksmann's Le discours de la haine ('the discourse of hatred'):
The wildest of hatreds do not need a cause outside of ourselves. This is Glucksmann's point. Hatred's causes may merely be hatred's excuses. We hate because we choose to hate. We could equally choose not to do so. And why choose to hate? On this question, Glucksmann reveals himself as the disciple, as no one could have predicted, of Sartre. In Anti-Semite and Jew, Sartre wrote that people who give in to the pleasures of hatred do so because they cannot abide their own frailties. Weakness and imperfection are the human condition. But weakness and imperfection leave us unsatisfied, maybe even disgusted with ourselves. Hatred, however, can make us feel strong. Hatred is thrilling. Hatred is reassuring. When we choose to hate, we discover that, by hating, we overcome our own disappointment at ourselves. We choose to hate because we want to feel the exhilarating vibrations of power instead of weakness, the perfect ideal instead of the imperfect reality. And so, in order to hate, we hold aloft a glorious vision that can never exist: the vision of a perfect mankind unstained by weakness and flaws, a vision of purity and power. And we give ourselves over to the satisfying pleasures of hating everyone who stands in the way of the perfect vision.

20 November 2005

Smithsonian Scholars at Work, 1918

I can remember sitting in Harrington's office typing, but I cannot remember what I typed. Surely we must have made a pretense of at least putting the Chumash material in order, since most of his vouchers had been made out for paying Chumash informants. At home we worked exclusively and almost frantically on the Tanoan material. Harrington bought a roll of butcher's paper, which he meticulously divided into sheets that would lie nicely on our combination kitchen and dining table. On the sheets he diagrammed all the ramifications of the Taos pronoun: the various pronominal postfixes in combination with free standing forms, also with verbs and nouns. I never quite saw the sense of these oversized diagrams, for they contained nothing that could not be shown on sheets of ordinary writing paper. But Harrington enjoyed making them--it was about the nearest he ever came to having fun. Ultimately, he had a stack approximately six inches high. Before I left Washington I pulled the stuff together and wrote a paper on "The Taos Pronoun." With amazing generosity, Harrington presented it for publication under my own name, and Dr. J. Walter Fewkes, Chief of the Bureau of American Ethnology, accepted it. I believe I was even paid something. The number "twenty-five" comes to mind, but whether I received twenty-five dollars or produced twenty-five pages of stilted and incomparable dullness, I couldn't say. There must still be copies filed away in musty archives....

Harrington had another Indian colleague in the Bureau, a Huron (if I remember correctly), a sluggish type who had not gone into the field for years and had no desire to do so. He published, however. I seem to remember the texts of myths with dull translations which shifted into Latin whenever they promised to become interesting. His name is a blank to me.

Still another colleague whose name I do not recall was a short, red-faced, balding man who held the theory that life in America tended over the course of several generations to make the descendants of all immigrants dolicocephalic, no matter how round-headed their ancestors had been. As I was learning, this man and many others who devoted themselves to the pursuit of science tended to evolve fantasies into theories and then to find or twist facts to support them. The first question put to me by this anthropologist was how long had my people been in America? When I replied, "Five generations," nothing would do but that he must get his calipers and measure my head immediately. To his disappointment, I was brachycephalic. In fact, he found me excessively, inordinately brachycephalic, more round-headed than any one of my ancestry had any right to be. I remembered that my father's head looked rather long, my mother's decidedly round, and I refrained from telling him that I had been a stubborn baby who refused to sleep in any position except on my back....

On a bitterly cold night we went to visit a group of Kiowas who were in Washington on official business for their tribe. Harrington said it was our opportunity to contact authentic Plains Indians. He was so enthusiastic that I shared his excitement. The Kiowas were housed in a hotel that had seen better days. It was now a combination of fleabag and firetrap, catering to Indians with little money to spend. We walked along the narrow, smelly, dimly lit hallway with its threadbare red carpeting, and knocked upon a certain door. Although our visit had been prearranged, the response was so slow in coming that it seemed as though we were not to be admitted. At last the door was opened. We entered a hot, musty room where three or four Indians sat draped in blankets. Harrington took out his basic questionnaire and proceeded to ask for certain words in the Kiowa language. Responses to these questions and to all attempts at conversation were so deliberate as to make it appear that the speakers lived in another time-world where a day was as a thousand years, or at the very least two seconds were as five minutes. Even the words were spaced out, with gaps between words and also between syllables. The answers, if one had the patience to listen for them, were coherent and intelligent, but always interminably drawn out. An hour of interviewing produced almost nothing. After we left, Harrington said the Indians had been under the influence of some drug, probably, he thought, peyote.
SOURCE: Encounter with an Angry God, by Carobeth Laird (U. New Mexico Press, 1993), pp. 80-86

19 November 2005

Now Where Was I?

Over Veterans Day weekend, I vowed to finish revisions to a linguistics paper provisionally accepted to a volume in memory of a departed colleague--and to stop blogging until I had done so. Well, the revisions dragged on for a week, for no particularly good reason. Generalist blogging is just so much easier than finalizing words to be printed in indelible ink on acid-free paper for the benefit of an obscure bunch of academic specialists.

The other reason for light blogging has been my reading matter lately, which has not easily lent itself to excerpting:
Here's a short paragraph from Days of Obligation (p. 29) that captures one of my favorite things about Rodriguez. He has a keen sense of tragedy, and no desire for utopias.
I have never looked for utopia on a map. Of course I believe in human advancement. I believe in medicine, in astrophysics, in washing machines. But my compass takes its cardinal point from tragedy. If I respond to the metaphor of spring, I nevertheless learned, years ago, from my Mexican father, from my Irish nuns, to count on winter. The point of Eden for me, for us, is not approach, but expulsion.
In the wake of Veterans Day, that passage seemed especially appropriate.

UPDATE: While I've been reading about John Peabody Harrington, Impearls has posted huge chunks of Harrington's contemporary (and my dissertation advisor's teacher) A. L. Kroeber's Handbook of the Indians of California, with some great maps, too.

Death Rattle vs. Flatline

We were by then fully into the Depression. Hoover closed the banks, including a very insignificant one in Coleman, Texas. My father had helped to found this bank, and in a sense it had been a more satisfactory child to him than his flesh and blood daughter. He survived its closure by just one week, dying quite literally of a broken heart. The night he died we were all together in the home in San Diego. He lay on a hospital bed set up in the alcove off the living room that we called the "music room." My mother sat beside him, holding his limp hand and sighing heavily at intervals, doing her duty to the very end of their life together. The children were upstairs, except the three-months-old baby, who was in her basket in the dining room, where George and I lay sleepless on a quilt. The folding doors into the living room were partially open. Soon after midnight we heard the death rattle, then the final expiration, and then, no more....

We purchased a lot for ten dollars in the unkempt old cemetery at Poway. There on a day of driving November rain we buried my father under the catalpa trees. Mother said this was appropriate, for his mother, the mother he had scarcely known, lay under the catalpa trees somewhere near Uvalde, Texas. The gloom of the brief graveside ceremony was broken for an instant when one of the Laird children piped up, "Did we forget the bananas?" To him, the trip to San Diego meant an opportunity to purchase bananas, not the loss of a grandfather.
SOURCE: Encounter with an Angry God, by Carobeth Laird (U. New Mexico Press, 1993), p. 178

How many people in developed countries these days die at home, surrounded by family, with final expiration heralded by the sound of the death rattle? Nowadays, the flatline on the EKG has replaced the death rattle, and artificial respirators have to be switched off by unrelated experts.

10 November 2005

How Not to Quell a Riot: Los Angeles, 1992

In November 2004, the Suburban Emergency Management Project issued a three-part series of biots on "The Flawed Emergency Response to the 1992 Los Angeles Riots":

Part A
Editor’s Note: This case report is well-written and eminently valuable because it provides keen insights into how the 1992 LA riots actually got started (beyond the obvious cause of the [Rodney King] verdict). If I had to finger one cause beyond the verdict itself, it would be the abdication of civil leadership during a time of severe social stress. What is stunning about the 1992 LA riots is their uncanny resemblance to the LA Watts riots of 1965, which the civil leadership of 1992 (e.g., [LAPD Chief Daryl] Gates, [LA Mayor Thomas] Bradley, [Congresswoman Maxine] Waters) must surely have experienced as young adults. Experienced and informed leadership is at no time more important than during social stress situations when managers and line staff require effective and timely direction and support.
Part B
Editor’s Note: Absent a functioning police force, the riot spun out of control.
Part C
Editor’s Note: It is easy to be appalled at the flawed organization response to the 1992 LA riots. If one views the situation through the lens of emergent collective behaviors during disasters, it is easier to comprehend. Command and control models of organization response do not work well during times of severe civilian social stress. From the original leadership vacuum created in particular by the personality and flawed leadership of Chief Gates, the events escalated beyond anyone’s control until finally the rioters were tired and spent and there was not much else left to destroy. That is when the riots stopped, even though we may wish to believe that the massive organizational response finally brought about this desired result.
Here are some illustrations of how not to proceed.

1. Paralyze your leadership.
The conflict between Gates and Bradley in the months leading up to the verdict “had transformed [police] department dynamics, with some assistant and deputy chiefs disillusioned, others trying to win approval as possible successors, and others on their way out. Indeed, by the time of the jury’s deliberation, the leadership for the LAPD was in a state of near paralysis,” reports Rosegrant. Further, both Gates and Bradley reached the conclusion that “the LAPD should not make a public show of mobilizing” (p. 14) should violence occur. “This sense of cautiousness had already seeped throughout the department: LAPD arrests had dropped significantly during the previous year as police changed tactics and avoided problematic arrests that might lead to discipline or a charge of excessive force. The feeling that ‘I get paid the same for not making arrests, and am less apt to get in trouble,’ was almost a guiding rule,’ rued one police officer.” Bradley, Maxine Waters, and other black leaders opposed a highly mobilized LAPD both because they feared police might overreact and create another Rodney King-like incident, and because they worried that the mere sight of riot-ready police could incite a violent reaction among already tense residents.” (p. 14)
2. Put your own political interests first.
Chief Gates, who appeared unaware of the seriousness of the disturbance, had left at 6:30 pm for a political fundraiser outside of LA. Gates thought there were sporadic problems, but his attitude, according to one observer, was “By God, get in there and deal with it. It’s not going to take the chief of police of the city of Los Angeles to run this operation, and if it does, I’ve got the wrong people below me. There was no centralized direction.” (p. 4) In response to a flood of 9-1-1 calls, a lieutenant at headquarters finally declared a tactical alert at 6:45 pm, a step that many believed Gates should have taken much earlier. When Gates returned to headquarters after 10 pm, he “took [Hunt] absolutely apart in public,” according to one observer. (p. 8) Gates later remarked, “Since I’d been though it, I kind of though that fellow members of the top command knew what to do. They didn’t.” Fire Chief Manning said, “We all know that a plan that people don’t know about is as bad as no plan at all—in fact, it’s probably worse. In this case, I think Daryl [Gates] believed that they had a plan. He may well have believed that his people were fully trained in it. In the real world, they weren’t.” (p.8) Later when the LAPD tried to isolate the Florence-Normandie area, the effort came too late to be effective.
3. Let the media set your priorities.
During the first night of the riot on April 29, 1992, the emergency operations center (EOC), though officially activated, became “kind of an isolated island of non-information” according to the LAPD’s Commander Bayan Lewis (B, p. 6). Officers gleaned information from the television coverage of the riots and tended to dispatch resources to locations being featured on television to the detriment of other areas of the city that also had needs. The EOC communications system, which consisted of handwritten notes sent by runners to various officials in the main room or satellite rooms, rapidly became overloaded so that many requests were never delivered.
4. Allow the riot to spread.
Meanwhile, approximately 50,000 young men in South Central flooded the streets, many with new weapons looted from gun stores and pawn shops, which had remained unguarded by police officers. The riot demographics changed after the first night, which was dominated by enraged members of the African-American community, e.g., the attacks by young black males on Reginald Denny. But by the second day, people of all races, ages, gender, and income levels were looting and other illegal behavior.

The media coverage seemed to exacerbate the looting. One African-American woman, for example, told a media person that “watching television convinced her to go steal diaper, cans of food, and produce because she … ’didn’t know if there were going to be any stores standing.’” (C, p. 7) A fire department battalion commander noted, “You could almost get a game plan off television, because they would gather concerns from the local officials about where it was happening and what was happening. I think that gave a lot of direction to the rioters.” (C, p. 7)
5. Deploy unprepared Guard troops.
By 4 am on April 30, 1992, 2,000 Guard troops had reported to about ten armories in the city area. The goal of getting the troops on the streets by 4 pm, April 30, was hindered by failure to assign which agency would coordinate the Guard’s involvement, deciding what its missions would be, and estimating how many more troops ultimately might be called up. Unknown to Thrasher and Wilson, most of the troops weren’t really trained to respond to a riot. As a result, commanders at the armories trained the troops on the spot. Troops had to read and sign a copy of the Rules of Engagement, which emphasized the importance of restraint, so that soldiers “wouldn’t leave themselves open to charges, such as those that arose after the Watts riots, of having fired on rioters without adequate cause.” (C, p. 5)
6. Send in the Marines to quell domestic disturbances.
The 1992 LA riots were officially over when Mayor Bradley lifted the curfew on May 4. But city officials and residents were reluctant to see federal and Guard troops leave. General Covault wanted his troops to leave as soon as possible. For example, one incident in particular alarmed him. “Police and Marines were responding to a disturbance, which turned out to be a domestic dispute, when two shotgun rounds were fired through the door. One of the police officers shouted, ‘Cover me,’ meaning that the Marines should have their weapons ready to respond if necessary. But the Marines, understanding ‘cover me’ to mean providing cover by using firepower, shot off what was later estimate to have been more than 200 rounds.” (C, p. 21) Remarkably, no one in the apartment was injured. Finally, on May 9, federal troops began to depart. Five days later, the Guard also began to disengage. On May 27, the last solders headed home.

09 November 2005

Who Riots? Those Downtrodden or Those Ascendant?

Chicago Boyz contributor Shannon Love identifies some misconceptions on rioting.
In reading a lot of commentary on the French Riots, I repeatedly see a lot of commentators repeating the idea that people riot because they feel weak, powerless and helpless. This is exactly backwards. The real pattern is that people tend to riot when they feel both entitled and empowered.

This counterintuitive aspect of rioters explains why in sports riots it is the fans of the winning team who are much more likely to riot than those of the losing team. The team's victory creates both a sense of entitlement, "we won so we get to celebrate excessively," and a sense of empowerment, "we can beat anyone!"

Other forms of rioting follow the same pattern. Until the 1960s, African-Americans were almost always the victims of riots, not the perpetrators. The race riots of the late-'60s did not occur because of increasing oppression of African-Americans but because of decreasing oppression. The political changes of the '60s made African-Americans feel both entitled to strike against the larger society and strong enough to do so. The riots were expressions of strength, not weakness.

Political riots tend to arise from populations who follow the ascendent political doctrines of their times. Riots in the '60s world-wide were almost always young leftists rioting against the rightist status-quo. Being in sync with the dominant political zeitgeist of an era gives the rioters their needed sense of entitlement (moral justification in the case of political riots) and their sense of empowerment (the people are with us!).

So what does all this tell us about the French riots?

First, the rioters feel entitled or justified in rioting. Perhaps they feel entitled because they feel economically cheated, but they may also feel entitled for cultural or ideological reasons. The mostly Arab and Islamic rioters may be striking out at the white French in a manner similar to the American race riots of the 1800s, only in this case it is a belief in cultural or religious superiority that drives them.

Second, the rioters do not feel desperate or afraid. Instead, they are rioting because they believe that a power shift has occurred in their favor. They are attacking less out of aggrievement than out of contempt. They feel ascendent. This suggests they do not perceive the French state as being willing or capable of opposing them.
This certainly fits the pattern of the anti-Korean riots after the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923. A student paper in Compass Online suggests several factors that prompted Japanese citizens to riot against immigrant Korean laborers after the earthquake:
  • The Japanese government proclaimed martial law, ostensibly to quell Korean riots.
  • The postwar depression after 1918 caused Japanese workers to resent competition from Korean immigrants.
  • Japanese citizens felt superior to Koreans, whose weak government had easily yielded to Japanese colonial control.
  • Japanese feared their colonial subjects after the Korean nationalist uprising in 1919.
The Japanese rioters felt aggrieved, to be sure, but one would be hard put to prove they were more oppressed than the Koreans they slaughtered.

One could make similar observations about the countless instances of large demonstrations, whether violent or peaceful, led by students from elite universities in capital cities, some of which have toppled governments, while others have been violently suppressed. The students and workers who demonstrated for weeks in Tiananmen Square in 1989 didn't do so because they felt weak. They felt empowered, on the crest of history, protected by the eyes of the world, and far more legitimate than the corrupt government they unsuccessfully challenged.

UPDATE: Shannon Love had an earlier post entitled Bread Alone that addressed issues of material vs. psychological welfare, the latter principally focusing on jobs and control of one's own destiny.
In the modern developed world, the basic material needs of even the most poor are easily met. Even the most die-hard libertarian must give some attributes of the welfare state, such as universal education, some credit for getting us to this point. However, just because a concept met the needs of the past doesn't mean it meets the needs of present or the future. The point of diminishing returns has long since been passed. What the poor now need, and what the welfare state cannot provide, is an environment that lets the individual gain control over their own destinies. The very degree of micromanagement that the welfare state requires to function means that it must strip the ability to choose from the individual. People in such situations do begin to feel like cattle, cared for but ultimately herded .

In the 80's, a great shift occurred in American thinking about welfare. Americans grew less concerned about the material aspects of lives of the poor and instead began to pay attention to their psychological well being. We made the decision that long-term dependence on the state was destructive to both individuals and communities. Americans think it's better for a community that 100% of people capable of work are able to get a job a $5 an hour than it is for only 50% of workers to get jobs paying $10 an hour. We have decided that giving people active control over their own lives is ultimately better than providing a higher level of material benefit. I believe that is why in recent years, when disasters like blackouts or massive hurricanes disrupted the functioning of centralized authority, America's poor did not riot or prey on others. Instead, overall, they reacted with great civility, even when abandoned by the state.
Well, perhaps that understates American troubles a bit, but not as much as French coverage of Hurricane Katrina overstated the ensuing troubles.

08 November 2005

Scoring Political Points Through Fire and Flood

Like many bloggers, I've been reading voraciously about the escalating outbreaks of gang violence in in France, and now elsewhere in Europe. I must say, I am utterly disgusted with the amount of political point-scoring that permeates the blogosphere (Left and Right), just as it does the international media (mostly Left) whenever disasters strike or "mistakes are made" by anyone in a position that requires them to make hard decisions that have real-world consequences. The world seems no longer to be inhabited by fallible humans, only by omniscient demons who seek to turn Our utopias into Their counterutopias.

In general, the level of analysis in the blogosphere is infinitely superior to that purveyed by the traditional broadcast media, but you sure as hell need a powerful, uh, "wastewater management" filter to find it anymore. During the political-point pachinkofest that was Hurricane Katrina, I just tried to tune it all out. The Paris riots are more difficult. They are pretty much a man-made (and, frankly, boy-made) fiasco, and not an act of God or Nature. There are many lessons to learn, whether or not they score political points.

My own fairly inarticulate political philosophy (to the extent I have patience for such matters) tends toward utilitarianism, pragmatism, or--better yet--experimentalism (or empiricism, synonymous with quackery in an earlier era, and even nowadays to proponents of Theory). Perhaps I could call it Dengxiaopingism, whose followers recite the ideology-exorcising Any-color-cat-echism. (Yes, I know Deng bloodily suppressed peaceful demonstrators, quite unlike those torching the French banlieues.)

In my ideal world, different nations, states, or communities would have the freedom and imagination to try different solutions to problems they identify, and we would all learn from the mistakes of others with whom we share similar goals. Sort of the political equivalent of bottom-up Quality Circles, endless tiny improvements, marginal revolutions. (Please, no major revolutions! They usually mean you have to chuck all received wisdom and learn every old lesson anew. Does this make me a "conservative"?)

In that spirit, I'd like to extract pieces from a thoroughly utilitarian, but far from unimaginative website, the Affordable Housing Institute (via Chicago Boyz), whose post on 7 November is entitled L'horloge orange, citing Anthony Burgess's 1962 novel Clockwork Orange.
In grim fulfillment of my prediction, the slums inside have exploded and the riots are getting worse: more places, more sophistication, more evil intent ...

Once failure cracks into violence, it spread like a hateful epidemic until it plays itself out, usually in a small-scale atrocity that shocks the mass of bystanders into newfound courage. But end the riots will -- the law will have the last word -- and when they are over, what then?

France's entire urban housing policy has failed, massively failed. The riots are proof.

In a world of scooters, cell-phones, and satellite television, no longer can poverty be isolated in high-rise blocks. No longer can the poor be kept ignorant of the riches next door....

Regardless of its founders' good intention, severe destructive income concentration is almost always the fate of public housing -- those people are put out of sight, out of mind.

When first envisioned in 1937, US public housing was a slum clearance tool: the housing was intended for truly working families, with income mixing and ethnic distribution. But whenever there is too little affordable housing, the tension arises, whom do we house?

Naturally, say the compassionate, we must house the neediest. Entirely understandable. But who are the neediest? Other than the elderly, whom most housing authorities separate in their own high-rise properties, the neediest are those who have no job. And who chooses to live with those who have no job? Those who have no practical choice.

The result, slowly but inexorably, is progressively more severe income concentration....

As in Old New Orleans, poverty was the distiller of an ethnic ghetto: it's not that Muslim became poor, it's that poor became Muslim....

Concentrated grinding poverty and idleness brew violence. You simply cannot warehouse young men in unemployment, welfare, isolation, boredom, and xenophobia, and expect them to learn anything else....

With all due deference to minister Sarkozy, violence is the solution to the problem of non-existence. Violence is heady stuff, intoxicating the more so because it goes unpunished and it is an inchoate revenge on all those who have more ...

Anger and hate are unfocused, but those who act on hate become demagogic clay to be molded into instruments of political terror....

This is not yet a political or organized assault on French society … but it could rapidly become one. Where there is free-flowing violence, there are megalomaniacs ready to use it....

In the coming days I'll post on what France's plan should be, and we can compare it with the political vaporware the esteemed prime minister proposes.
Read the whole thing. It's illustrated with quotes from the book and stills from the movie Clockwork Orange, plus a good variety of supporting quotes.

Another post about political calculations outlines a list of self-evident truths that are thoroughly utilitarian:
1. No program is ever created whose sole benefits are long-term. Every program must generate some short-term political benefits.

2. Pilot programs reduce political cost and political risk (because they give the experimenters permission to fail). Additionally, because pilots have a quicker payback, they fit better with the political cyclicality.

3. If you want macro change, you must drive away political cover because if elected officials can address an issue with political cover (which has minimal downside risk), they will prefer that to political commitment (fraught with political cost and risk).

4. Vaporware, no matter how patently absurd, is political cover for the weak-minded. This is why fluff vaporware is so harmful -- in a political Gresham's law, vaporware drives out policy reform.

5. Macro change seldom arises when things are merely declining. For macro change, things have to be truly desperate (this is why catastrophe is a precondition of fundamental reform). (FHA arose out of the Great Depression. HUD came about after the 1960's urban riots.) Hence the saying, "before it can get better, it has to get worse."

6. Sometimes the most effective step is a small increment that changes the political environment. Enough such small increments may tip the political arithmetic. This is a virtuous 'slippery slope.'

7. There are times when the political environment for change is hopeless. In such cases, it is better to do nothing other than create intellectual ammunition. Spending political capital on a gutless Congress is merely wasting effort.

8. Just as the seasons turn, so too do the tides of aggregate political capital and political risk tolerance. The closer an election looms, the more likely elected officials are to plump for political cover, vaporware, and nostrums. So if you want to make a major push, do it with plenty of time before the next election!

9. Sometimes your best champions are those grizzled veteran elected officials who have seen parliaments come and go but problems remain. Newcomers are blank slates, terrified of political risk.

07 November 2005

Diary of an Japanese Schoolgirl, 1945

June 17, 1945

Today we went over what we'll do at the presentation assembly, and this time we had Hachikuwa-sensei decide. Today was a spiritual training day for the whole school, and we did something different--we did hand-to-hand combat. Iwamaru-sensei told us many different stories. Then we piggybacked the person across from us and ran and did other things. The next station was Akuzawa-sensei's hand grenade-throwing class. We used small balls for hand grenades and imagined that the large ball we used for the intergrade meet was the enemy's head and threw the small balls at it. We threw the hand grenades with all our might, but they didn't hit their target. Then we moved to Hachikuwa-sensei's station, where we practiced striking and killing with a wooden sword. We faked to the left and faked to the right. Then after some time we went to Ishida-sensei's station. We took our clothes off and practiced spearing someone. We used our foreheads to butt the chest of the person in front of us, thrust our hands into their armpits, and pushed with our feet firmly planted on the ground. In the end, only one person was still thrusting. Then when that was done, we went to Yoshikado-sensei's station, where we practiced spearing. Yoshikado-sensei said, "They're still there. Spear them! Spear them!" and it was really fun. I was tired, but I realized that even one person can kill a lot of the enemy.

August 16, 1945

Today at breakfast we heard very sad news from Miyaji-sensei. At long last, Japan was forced to surrender unconditionally to the Soviet-American-British alliance. It was because of the atomic bomb. On August 15, His Majesty said, "We have endured hardships and sadness, but we have been defeated by that atomic bomb, and all Japanese could be injured and killed. It is too pitiful for even one of my dear subjects to be killed. I do not care what happens to me." We heard that he then took off the white gloves he was wearing and began to cry out loud. We cried out loud too. Watch out, you terrible Americans and British! I will be sure to seek revenge. I thought to myself, I must be more responsible than I have been.
SOURCE: Leaves from an Autumn of Emergencies: Selections from the Wartime Diaries of Ordinary Japanese, by Samuel Hideo Yamashita (U. Hawai‘i Press, 2005), pp. 289, 307

06 November 2005

Diary of a Kyushu Schoolgirl, 12 April 1945

Today will be a clear-weather attack. They loaded us into a car with the divine eagles who will attack and not return, and we drove straight to the waiting aircraft along Guidance Road. On the way we sang "Sinking from the Sky" over and over. Together with our teachers we pulled the camouflage netting off the squadron leader's plane. The revolutions of the propeller on his plane, the one with a bomb on its belly, were fine. Motoshima's plane made a buzzing sound. That was probably the exceedingly kind squadron leader. We climbed onto the starting car (in those days, when aircraft started their engines, their propellers would not always turn automatically, so many had to be started with a starting car) and went to the control tower to send off the pilots. When I turned around, the squadron leader and Motoshima, both wearing pretty Chinese milk vetch necklaces, boarded their aircraft and looked back at us. A plane covered with cherry blossoms taxied by right in front of us. We thought that we, too, should shower the planes with cherry blossoms and ran back to the barracks. On the way we met Kawasaki, who was riding a bicycle.

We picked as many cherry blossoms as we could and ran back as fast as our legs would carry us, but the planes had gone to the starting line and were about to begin taxiing down the runway. They were far away, and we were sorry we couldn't run out to them. Motoshima's plane was late and went to the starting line right in front of us. Then the squadron leader's plane took off. It was followed by planes piloted by Okayasu, Yagyu, and Mochiki. The Type 97 fighters wagged their wings from left to right, and we could see smiling faces in all the planes. The plane piloted by Anazawa from the Twentieth Jinbu Squadron passed in front of us. When we waved branches of cherry blossoms as hard as we could, the smiling Anazawa, his head wrapped in a headband, saluted us several times.

Click! ... when we turned and looked behind us, it was the cameraman taking our pictures. When everyone of the special-attack ["kamikaze"] planes had taken off, we just stood there for a long time, gazing at the southern sky, which seemed to go on forever. Tears welled up in our eyes.

We didn't feel like talking, and when we were about to return together, we discovered Motoshima and Watai. Motoshima was crying unashamedly ... when I asked, "What's wrong?" he said, "My bomb dropped off, and I couldn't take off. When I ran over to our squadron leader, he said, 'Motoshima, come later. I'll go ahead and will be waiting for you in that other world.' I didn't expect this, and I'm so upset! After squadron leader's plane took off, I just sat alone and cried to my heart's content." Teary-eyed Watai added, "It is really a shame! I'm sorry." All at once, the tears we had been stifling welled up, and we all cried together. They said that tonight was a wake for the squadron leader, so sake couldn't be drunk. Horii, who came today, told jokes, and the men listened, but their minds were somewhere else. Since they cried whenever they thought about their squadron leader, who had such deep affection for his subordinates, and about the way he'd say "Motoshima, Motoshima," they asked us not to say anything at all.

It was unfortunate that Motoshima and Watai weren't able to body-crash together with their splendid squadron leader or to participate in the second general attack.
SOURCE: Leaves from an Autumn of Emergencies: Selections from the Wartime Diaries of Ordinary Japanese, by Samuel Hideo Yamashita (U. Hawai‘i Press, 2005),
pp. 230-231

Motoshima got his wish 4 days later. The diarist was among the high school girls "assigned to the quarters of the special-attack ["kamikaze"] pilots and told to look after them, which meant cleaning their quarters, doing their laundry, and mending their clothes" (p. 221).

04 November 2005

A North Korean Renegade in Seoul

Seoul's Christian community offered me enormous material and emotional support. Religion is very attractive to North Korean renegades. The atmosphere of quasi-religious adoration in which we were raised in North Korea only partially explains this phenomenon; more important, I believe, is the thirst for affection--for love, even--every renegade feels. I don't know whether I am profoundly religious, but I wanted to be baptized.

I was also lucky enough to receive support from a bank, which gave me a scholarship for the duration of my studies. Add to that the money I made from giving interviews and writing the occasional article, and I had few material worries.

Since my integration into South Korean life ultimately would have to take place through steady work, I joined Hanyang University. Its founder, Kim Yon-jun, was a strong advocate for human rights in the North. Many renegades had enrolled in his university, and I was encouraged to do the same. I chose international business as my major. All the students were much younger than I was, but they accepted me as they might an older brother. They liked me a lot and tried to help me however they could, especially with English, which I spoke poorly. Despite our amicable relations, many things they did put me off. They were always going out to cafes and restaurants, as though getting a soda from the dispenser and lying on the grass weren't good enough. They were throwing money out the window! Life in the North had made me a bit of a Spartan. When students sat down cross-legged in front of me and started smoking, I had a hard time holding my tongue; you don't do that in front of someone your senior. The North is hypertraditionalist. Friendships between members of the opposite sex is not the norm. When a man speaks to a woman his own age, he employs the familiar form of address, she the formal. Relations follow a strict hierarchy. Here, we were equal! Some of the female students were so self-confident, they hardly paid me any attention when I spoke to them.

I eventually got used to all this. I have fond memories of my days at the university, even though the leftist students often riled me. They always tried to make me see the shortfalls of the South Korean system of government. At least the North wasn't corrupted by a fierce, never-ending battle for profit! Though I lacked the theoretical arguments to counter their claims, I wasn't impressed. "Go to the North," I told my contradictors, "and you'll stop trying to excuse all Kim Il-sung's failures. Go find out for yourselves."
SOURCE: The Aquariums of Pyongyang: Ten Years in the North Korean Gulag, by Kang Chol-hwan and Pierre Rigoulot, translated by Yair Reiner (Basic Books, 2001), pp. 227-228

Thomas Barnett on Fundamentalists vs. Evangelicals

Last weekend, I watched a thought-provoking interview on C-SPAN2's Book TV with Thomas P.M. Barnett, author of The Pentagon's New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-first Century and its follow-up Blueprint for Action: A Future Worth Creating. He has some surprising recommendations about U.S. policies toward both Iran and China. Surprising for a Neocon. Not so surprising for a Realist.

The initial shocker to me was that the interviewer was a U.S. Congressman (Rep. Tom Feeney, R-FL) who could ask intelligent questions--and then wait for an extended answer. It doesn't matter if he was Republican or Democrat, Representative or Senator. I was just impressed that Feeney could yield camera time for extended periods to a lowly, unelected book author. I haven't been able to find a transcript yet, but the whole interview is available on (RealPlayer) video.

One insight I've been mulling over is the distinction Barnett makes between fundamentalists and evangelicals. Barnett sees the world as divided into a globalized Functioning Core (basically, the G20) and a Non-Integrating (often self-isolating) Gap. He sees fundamentalists--whether Muslim or Christian (and I would add, back-to-nature secularist)--as those who reject globalization, whereas evangelicals, in Barnett's view, are some of the most ardent globalizers. Here's my transcription of a bit of the tail end of the interview.
FEENEY: We only have a very brief time left. One of the many subpremises of your book, which is again a fascinating book, A Blueprint for Action, is that evangelical Christians may be the best opportunity to turn these Third World countries into a connected, friendly, peace-loving community. You point out that there are more people attending Christian services in China than in western Europe put together. Is this the peaceful version of the Crusades that's going to bring world peace?

BARNETT: Well, you know, I really stress *not* making Islam the enemy. There are parts of every religion who are fundamentalist. They believe to be a true believer is to separate oneself from the rest of society. In the United States, we have the Amish, for example. They do this peacefully. What we see in the global Salafi/Jihadist movement are fundamentalists who seek separation through violent means. I think we have to distinguish between fundamentalists and evangelicals, of all religions, who basically seek connectivity through the spread of their faith. My argument is, it's become a huge connective force, a very positive thing, and we need to seek to promote it as much as possible. Not surprisingly, evangelicals in this country are some of the biggest internationalists right now: most concerned about the environment, most concerned about human rights, most concerned about economic justice.
That rings true to me. I see the outgoing wave of U.S. missionary evangelists of my parents' generation after World War II as the religious equivalents of the wave of secular Peace Corps evangelists of my generation. (I was never in the Peace Corps, but my wife was.) Even the Southern Baptist missionaries of my parents' generation were much more internationalist than those fundamentalists who later took over the Southern Baptist Convention during the 1980s.

UPDATE: More on Thomas Barnett vs. Robert Kaplan on China and the U.S. here and here (via Simon World).

03 November 2005

Defective Defector Redefects

A 31-year-old Japanese lady who defected to North Korea two years ago has given up and redefected to Japan. She had earlier spent time in the Aum Shinrikyo. The BBC has a few more claims and rumors about her saga. Somehow, I find the Jenkins-Soga saga more scintillating.

You know, it's hard to find good utopias these days. The demand so far exceeds the supply that the price often takes a wasted lifetime to pay.

via Japundit