RE: Geographic Determinism

From: Vincent Campbell (
Date: Mon Sep 10 2001 - 13:23:08 BST

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    Subject: RE: Geographic Determinism
    Date: Mon, 10 Sep 2001 13:23:08 +0100
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    See Jared Diamond's 'Guns, Germs and Steel' for an analysis of human history
    that mixes geography and ecology to human development along these kinds of


    > ----------
    > From: Kenneth Van Oost
    > Reply To:
    > Sent: Saturday, September 8, 2001 9:37 pm
    > To: memetics
    > Subject: Geographic Determinism
    > 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
    > issues.
    > 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
    > consequences.
    > 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
    > weak.
    > 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
    > further.
    > 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!?
    > Enjoy,
    > Kenneth
    > ===============================================================
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