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  • 1000 Years of Cultural Evolution for Reuse – James C. Bennett

    Posted by leifsmith on October 21st, 2012 (All posts by )

    “What the USA did was to take the patterns and toolkit the British used to create their society, and to simplify, universalize, and generalize it until it became a versatile template that could quickly convert expanses of raw land into new, functioning self-governing communities without a thousand years of cultural evolution, and a concept of citizenship that could take European peasant communities who had been dumbly following orders for a thousand years, and turn them within a generation into citizens, jurors, legislators, militiamen and volunteers, vestrymen and congregation-members, entrepreneurs, and self-actualized persons — the whole Anglosphere toolkit — all in a deliberate manner that the British never thought they would need, but now might do well to look at.

    “Americans have in many ways been congratulating themselves for the wrong things. The truths of the Declaration were hardly novel or shocking to the Englishmen who read them; rather, they saw them as a Whig five-finger exercise that had been boilerplate since 1688. What was shocking was that the Americans were throwing their own ideals back in their face.”

    James C. Bennett, July 8, 2006, at

    Also preserved at:


    8 Responses to “1000 Years of Cultural Evolution for Reuse – James C. Bennett”

    1. Michael Kennedy Says:

      I also believe that America was settled by people who were selected for independence and self reliance. The Irish know this very well. They express it as “the cream left.” They are not at all happy about it and I found Ireland not particularly friendly. That was before their spell of prosperity but they may have returned to previous attitudes.

      It took a lot to leave everything behind and strike out to the unknown. One of my objections to the Mexican immigrants is the fact that they have so little to lose and can (and will) return frequently. Mexico depends on remittances that could provide capital if those immigrants decided to imitate their predecessors and start businesses. Chinese immigrants have far more to offer. African immigrants have more to offer. Certainly more than the average black American.

    2. Ginny Says:

      Michael, I see a lot of Mexican small business owners here – some with little English but willingness to work. I do think Texas is different from California in this respect. And the desire to learn English and sense of meeting customer needs is an example of the basic altruistic (and thus immersive & uniting) nature of capitalism. The joint desire is to get the work done right – for both parties.

    3. James Bennett Says:

      You get independent and self-reliant people in all cultures, some more than others. For the past two hundred years or so, many of these have realized that they would be better off pursuing their dreams in America, and they overcome obstacles to come here. Often they find that once they are here, it is harder than they thought it would be , or they still have many characteristics of their home culture. Many go back. So the ones who come are self-selected, sometimes several times over. Since Mexico is closer, we get many more of all types of immigrants from there, the compatible ones and the incompatible. The compatible ones are less noticeable, since they blend in and often their children or grandchildren intermarry. I do think Texas has, makes, and retains more of the compatible ones since they, unlike California, take care to teach a narrative of Americanism and Texasism (pardon the coinage) that is positive and easily accessible. California teaches about the Zoot Suit Riots, Texas teaches about the Tejano heroes at the Alamo. As ye sow…

    4. Mrs. Davis Says:

      The problem is that Mexicans can be commuters as well as immigrants. In the 19th century an immigrant had to leave “the old country”, likely never to see it again. Those who decided it wasn’t the right place after all could return home, but they never came back. And many did. They weren’t paid to stay.

    5. James Bennett Says:

      Many immigrants start out with the intent of being commuters and end up staying. About a third of all Italians who came to the US in the great late 19th-early 20th century emigration went back. Substantially more probably would have, had it not been for the 1924 immigration quotas — they figured that if they went back after that they probably couldn’t get into America again, and they didn’t want to lose the option.

    6. IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States Says:

      }}}} I also believe that America was settled by people who were selected for independence and self reliance.

      Not just that, but also for a certain degree of risk-taking nature. The immigrants of America all took a big chance to go after the main prize. Many voluntarily left behind friends and family after looking around them and saying “There’s gotta be someplace better than this”, and struck out after the brass ring.

      I’d argue that this is at least part of the reason that slave-descended blacks have done poorer than the otherwise pretty equally shabbily treated “orientals” who are here.

      Although the two were treated very similarly in American culture from 1870 onward (segregation, abuse, and miscegenation laws), those descended from immigrants from The Orient have done VASTLY better than those descended from slaves out of Africa. In fact, the former typically outdo whites in many measures of success.

      Perhaps — and this is only a suggestion — one difference is that all those oriental immigrants were risk-takers, while the slave descendants were not only not from risk-taking stock, but even came from risk-averse stock… it can’t have been a good idea, as a slave, to have been taking risks, so the ones most likely to endure slavery and reproduce were risk-averse.

      I believe this might help explain, along with Liberal “victimhood” policies, why blacks have continued to do so poorly in comparison to whites and asians.

    7. Gringo Says:

      I also believe that America was settled by people who were selected for independence and self reliance.

      In addition, people for whom religion was important left Europe, and came to America. Centuries ago, Europe had established religions- and enforced adherence to the established religions. For those who cared about religion but who did not care for the established religion of their area, and who considered it a betrayal of their religious beliefs to pay lip service to the established religion of their area, there were only two alternatives: leave Europe for America or move to a more compatible place in Europe.

      Some religious-based emigration was voluntary, such as the Puritan emigration to Massachusetts. Some of it was forced. After the Louis XIV’s revocation of the edict of Nantes, some Huguenots left France for America, and some went to other places in Europe, such as Berlin or England.

      Those Europeans who were indifferent to religion saw no problem in paying lip service to the established religion. For the “indifferents,” religion would not have factored into leaving Europe for America.

      As a result, over the centuries America has a higher proportion of people for whom religion is important. Europe has a lower proportion of people for whom religion is important- because in centuries past so many of these left Europe for America.

      This helps explain why so many Europeans cannot understand the attachment to religion that so many Americans have.

      Indifference to religion or not being indifferent to religion: is this a genetic or cultural trait? Suffice it to say that I am agnostic on this issue.

    8. Mike K Says:

      “Although the two were treated very similarly in American culture from 1870 onward (segregation, abuse, and miscegenation laws), those descended from immigrants from The Orient have done VASTLY better than those descended from slaves out of Africa. In fact, the former typically outdo whites in many measures of success.”

      Some might consider this as evidence of racial differences but my own limited experience suggests that African immigrants, and I have taught a number of them, do as well as American whites. The American black’s problems may be selection but may also be psychological plus the selection of lower intelligence by the single motherhood problem. The latter was Charles Murray’s concern. I think it is largely psychological and the Democratic party has some responsibility here.

      There is pretty good evidence that the slave trade selected blacks for hypertension as salt retention aided survival in the conditions of the “middle passage.”

      The Asian population had strong family bonds. The blacks had these weakened by slavery but also, after an era when marriage rates among blacks and whites were similar, they were destroyed by LBJ social policies.

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