Geographic Determinism

From: Kenneth Van Oost (
Date: Sat Sep 08 2001 - 21:37:43 BST

  • Next message: Scott Chase: "Re: Clincher?"

    Received: by id UAA12742 (8.6.9/5.3[ref] for from; Sat, 8 Sep 2001 20:59:24 +0100
    Message-ID: <001401c138a6$40349900$c406bed4@default>
    From: "Kenneth Van Oost" <>
    To: "memetics" <>
    References: <> <002301c0d1b2$1464ad20$9d05bed4@default>
    Subject: Geographic Determinism
    Date: Sat, 8 Sep 2001 22:37:43 +0200
    Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
    Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
    X-Priority: 3
    X-MSMail-Priority: Normal
    X-Mailer: Microsoft Outlook Express 5.00.2314.1300
    X-MIMEOLE: Produced By Microsoft MimeOLE V5.00.2314.1300
    Precedence: bulk

    Hi all,

    Vincent wrote on August 30,
    " As I was typing about cichlids in isolated pools, I started thinking
    about tribes isolated by mountain ranges, or large rivers, or whatever,
    and the resultant changes in language, belief systems etc.
    The following I wrote a time ago, but I never got round to post it.
    Now it seems the time is ripe,

            We all find it self- evident that the sea, the cities and the
    country- side are infecting our individual behavior.
    But does these areas also have an influence upon the political life and
    upon the decisions which have to be taken !?

    As an example we take mountainous terrain and we ask ourselves the
    question_ does a geographic determinism exists !?
    If we put the major mountain ranges out upon a map and we put the
    the wars which are in progress at the moment on that map we distinguich
    a remarkable resemblance.
    Wars, like in Afghanistan, Chiapas, Kurdistan and Kashmir are all located
    in mountainous terrain.

    So, could mountains forfill another function than plains, cities and
    forests !?
    Could they attract in a sense war !?
    In order to determine this we have to examine which functions the moun-
    tains have.
    If we draw upon our map also the major rivers of the world we see that
    almost all rise in the mountains and that they throw themselves afterwards
    into sea.
    Thus, the first function of mountain ranges is to sort out the watersupply
    for the industry, irrigation and consumption and therefor they acts as
    social and cultural but above all they act as possible political conflicts

    If we draw now the real physical bounderies of the countries and nations
    upon our map, we see that those rivers traverse many others and do
    supply those with all kinds of fertilization and do make in that way a
    connection between the mountains and the plains.
    If we take a concrete example.

    Asia, the plateau of Tibet gives rise to several rivers.
    One is the Yangri Jaing which cuts through China and throws itself even-
    tually in the Chinese Sea. But the same plateau gives also rise to the
    Mekong river, which cuts through countries like Laos, Thailiand, Birma
    and Cambodia and finally Vietman where she flows into sea.
    China, by the way where the Mekong river is best know by the name of
    the Yunnan, has thus an enormous potential to control the other coun-
    tries which are mentioned earlier.
    But, if that is the case, China is than also responsible for the huge
    amount of air-, sole- and riverpolution and amounts to the economical

    Africa, Egypt is for nearly 90 % dependent on the Nile for its water-
    supply for its industry, agriculture and in a way for its nurture.
    Egypt is dependable of other countries like Burundi and Ethiopia for
    the flow of the Blue Nile, but also of Ugunda and Soudan where the
    Nile cuts through.
    Thus Egypt is very dependable on how it relates water to diplomacy.
    In fact both are linked.
    Because water has another function, namely energy.
    Energy is important because most of the hydro- electric power
    stations are built high up the mountains for their excellent position.

    So mountains do have as functions;- providing energy and providing
    enough water to substain industry and agriculture.
    But they also provide a lot of minerals, that due geological reasons.
    It is of course very clear that many industries will profit of this and
    for that reason they will setlle themselves into the mountains.
    Like in Chili, for copper, New- Guinea for gold and on the peninsula
    of Kola for nickel.
    Such enterprises do have an enormous direct influence upon the en-
    vironment:- disafforestation and polution.
    Also, most of the profits don 't seem to help the local residents of
    those areas.

    This of course is the direct motive for political tensions and this gives
    sometimes rise to armed conflicts, generally bloody suppressed by
    the army which does defend the interests of the great industries.
    In other words, mountains do obtain also another function, that
    of excellent hiding- place for starting guerilla warfare.
    Mountains provide thus excellent places to hide from colonists and
    from the central control of the state.
    Such a function fulfil the mountains for the Kurds, for the Afghans
    in the Hindu Kuch and of course the plateau of Tibet where rebels
    could resist for a long the Chinese occupation.
    Mountains, forests and plains are those elements which do make
    how long a war would or could last.

    Mountains can thus, in a way protect the cultural and ethnical heritage
    of a whole people; can in fact protect a certain way of life, but are also
    reasons for a kind of economical discrimination.
    If we look at statistics we do notice_ sometimes in the same country,
    enormous differences in life expectancy and life quality between people
    living cities and people living in mountainous areas.
    In India, the provence of Himachet Pradech it gross income is only 1/2
    of that of the whole of India. The difference in gross income between
    Manilla and the Mindanoa- area is also 1/2.
    Also, Nepal, Laos and Birma are mountainous countries and their
    gross income is serious lower than average and they stand economical

    If there is than none political system which share out what little of
    food they can harvest tensions will built up. To escape from poverty
    extremes are than possible.
    A coincidence, but one that is in fact none, will that the almost com-
    plete production of heroin and cocaine occurs in mountainous areas_
    Peru, Columbia, Bolivia, Laos, Cambodia,Thailand, Pakistan.
    Why this coincidence ?
    There exist a conjunction between the soil and the climate but also the
    socio- cultural influences are playing their part.
    Misery, poverty, suppression and economical arrears are making that
    drugs and thus the traffic in drugs are one way to get an income.

    It seems of course very evident that the mountains themselves are not
    to blaim, but rightly the low standard of life.
    It must be also very evident that the political system of those countries
    play its part, but also the culture, the social and political environment of
    those countries which do import the drugs are playing an important role.
    We can also assume examples which do work the other way round, like
    Chili and Argentina, but Austria and France too where the mountains
    do provide an income for their residents due to their touristic appeal.
    The mountains do give tourism thus a push in the right direction, but
    tourism itself helps the mountains and the people to develop themselves

    There is thus no strict geographic determinism, but there is well a certain
    specialization, with its low profits, its sparse population, thus almost
    none infrastructure, thus the people are kept from the central decision
    making processes and from development aid programs and thus are
    in fact marginalised.
    Governments do have the tendency to look at people living in moun-
    tainous terrain as those who do not want to express their willingness
    to work for the general/ regional interest.
    They don 't want to become modern, they say !!

    In myths and legends the sea is often compared with openness, with
    having a view upon eternity and the world.
    Mountains were often compared with being enclosed upon themselves,
    with having a view directed to the skies.

    (This is adpated from a TV- show)

    Now the questions,

    Is there a specific memetic development for such areas thinkable !?
    Highly probable there is, so can we derive a Memetic Determinism
    from this !?
    And if so, do there exist other areas and/ of specific scientific/ social/
    political/ cultural distinctions which can hide a Memetic Determinsm!?
    How would we define Memetic Determinism !?

    Is there a Memetic Determinism for cities like London and Milan ( fashion),
    New York ( theatre/ the stock exchange), Washington ( The White House),
    Moscow ( Kremlin), Peking ( capital city of the yellow danger) or
    Brussels ( capital of the European decision making process) !?

    Can we determine a Memetic Determinism for countries like the USA,
    Russia, China, Cuba or England, and if so out what consist this !?

    Can we indeed determine a Memetic Determinism for people like
    Bush, Putin or Fidel or Kennedy ( I am a Berliner) or for Luther King
    ( I have a dream) !?

    Can we in fact determine a Memetic Determinism for technologies,
    ideas, fashions, habits, traits, definitions !?

    Is there a Memetic Determinism involved in cases like suicide, murder!?
    Is there a Memetic Determinism involved in things like ethics and morality!?



    This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
    For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Sat Sep 08 2001 - 21:04:12 BST