Cultural selection discussion

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thread Any predictions for Russia? - Ilya Lipkovich - 2000-09-12
replythread Re: Any predictions for Russia? - Agner Fog - 2000-11-20
reply Re: Any predictions for Russia? - Herb Williams - 2002-02-07
last replythread Re: Any predictions for Russia? - Joseph - 2006-07-03
last reply Re: Any predictions for Russia? - Agner - 2006-07-04
reply Any predictions for Russia? - L.Risinger - 2002-05-13
last replythread Any predictions for Russia? - Carl - 2004-07-12
last replythread Any predictions for Russia? - Ivan - 2006-11-01
last reply Any predictions for Russia? - Agner - 2006-11-02
Any predictions for Russia?
Author:  Date: 2000-09-12 00:00
This new theory of cultural choice based on r/k dichotomy seems interesting, as well as the new millennium predictions based on it. However I was surprised not to find any predictions for Russia, is this because Russia is so unimportant in the new millennium or because Russia still remains unpredictable?

Some other comments. There was an example in the book or in the paper, it referred to, that pictured Former Soviet Union as being more interested and expansion and other r-business and not so much in the peaceful economic growth, etc, as compared to the K-type USA. Consequently, as the paper puts it "Soviet Union lost the cold war to the US". This may be true though again if the Fall of Soviet Union was an immediate consequence of the Cold War and the direct pressure from the US, it should have been predictable for at least several months before the so-called "perestroika" and "glasnost'" started, but frankly who was able to predict the "1984"? And when Gorbachev started moving on toward the end of Communism, who had been able to predict what his next step would be, even he obviously did not understand what was happening.

But apart from the predictability of Russia, how can the theory explain the investments Former Soviet Union made in apparently such peaceful things as chess, education in general, fundamental sciences, literature (and not only r-literature but also Russian XIX century literature. But was really Russian literature of XIX century truly K-literature? How would the r-K theory classify say Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky with their strange mixture of extreme individualism (K-thing!) and extreme authoritarianism (r-thing). You can say that Russian individualism is different from Western, well everybody knows that, but again how the r-K dichotomy would help us to better understand and predict? Interestingly, literature was not even mentioned in the plan of the book among other kinds of art (say music).

I understand that a simple and rational explanation of the Former Soviet Union high expenditure on "culture" and sport was that it was used (or misused) as a tool in the Cold War. Evidently so, maybe misused, but not simply reduced to a tool. Yes, Boris Spassky had to play better than Bobby Fisher for the ideas of Communism to spread wider and help the r-principles win the Cold War eventually. But how do you explain the enthusiasm of those dedicated Russian teachers who truly existed and worked as hard as they could to teach math, literature, chess, whatever. I grew up in Soviet Union and I remember them very well. Did they operate on r-principle or K-principle? Were they like rats who are trying to spread their litter as far as they could or maybe they were more like huge animals doomed to extinct who would nevertheless continue raising their few offspring as they believe they should, continue doing what they though was a decent and reasonable thing to do even if the environment around them was wild and inhuman? How can you explain that almost spiritual commitment of those people to high standards and honest work? Fear? Perfectionism, love to small details, replicating the "big idea" in small pieces, so typical to totalitarian or r- ideological system? I doubt that this would suffice to explain everything. My main point is that probably it is not possible to reduce all the cultural and spiritual values to the r-K dichotomy. On the contrary, art, literature and other forms of human activity, I believe, cannot be reduced to this dichotomy as they operate at a higher (meta-) level and can absorb the theory of cultural choice, that pretend they can explain and predict everything.

Re: Any predictions for Russia?
Author:  Date: 2000-11-20 00:00
Reply to Ilya Libkovich

Thanks for your comments on my theory.

The reason why I haven't made any predictions for Russia is because the important things have already happened there! What I am predicting is that we will have glasnost and perestroika in China too, though of course not exactly the same. From now on, Russia will just approach the general cultural convergence in Europe.

When I say in my book that the Soviet Union was more regal than USA, you shouldn't think that the difference was extreme. The Arabian countries, for example, were much more regal in that period. These differences are gradually leveling out now. In fact, I suspect that Russia will soon become more kalyptic than USA. Anyway, you shouldn't think of everything in former Soviet Union as extremely regal. In fact, as I have written, the culture in Czechoslovakia was actually quite kalyptic under the surface.

You are asking about literature. I have in fact written about literature in my book (p. 221). I didn't write very much, though, because the message in literature is often very obvious and hardly needs interpretation.

Regarding teaching:
Teaching is cultural reproduction, whether r or k. I fully agree with your statement that it is not possible to reduce all the cultural and spiritual values to the r/k dichotomy. This is just one dimension among many. Culture has many dimensions - in fact as many as you care to define. But the r/k dimension is a very important one because of its explanatory power.

Re: Any predictions for Russia?
Author:  Date: 2002-02-07 10:07

When looking at cultural factors that may or may not have lead to the demise of communism, it is imperative that we not lump all cultural elements together.

Many cultural elements predispose to the long term viability and success of an organization ( be it a family, a company or a nation). The truth is that some elements are simply more important for economic success than others and some are crucial. The areas you listed, education, the Arts, and yes, even Chess, are important cultural elements but these are elements more readily associated with personal fulfillment, then with economic success. The cultural elements, IN ADDITION TO the ones you listed, that Russia must endorse and nurture in it's news media and movies ( the greatest educational tool of all time) are: respect for the individual and indeed individualism, self dependency,(teach and read the children's story of THE LITTLE TRAIN WHO COULD I think I can, I think I can), reasonable risk taking and the entrepreneurial spirit. Valuing these traits in a open competitive market will do much to improve their economy.

If a man wishes to win a marathon, he must exercise his legs and lungs. Reading fiction and playing chess will not get him to the finish line first.


Re: Any predictions for Russia?
Author:  Date: 2006-07-03 19:42
to see the future of russia one only has to look at her past.russia will always be controlled by a strong man who uses a small clique of individuals to help him rule.the nations wealth will never be shared with the population at ideas will be presented to the people ;personal freedom;personal private property rights;political freedom;etc.but it will always be lies in the was and is the fate of the russian population.there will always be another czar with a new mask.the will to power of an individual is always the greatest of all the end it consumes all in its path.
Re: Any predictions for Russia?
Author: Agner Date: 2006-07-04 06:43
Joseph is obviously disappointed with the slow development of democracy in Russia, but his vision is contradicted by my theories. Russia and the ex-soviet states will gradually approach the situation in Western Europe.
Any predictions for Russia?
Author:  Date: 2002-05-13 20:52
I am in 7h grade. We need info on the defination of communism,pertaining to the former Russia.We need to get information about leisure and culture, organized sports and classless society. Thank you, LR
Any predictions for Russia?
Author:  Date: 2004-07-12 00:33
Your r/k theory is consistent with my view of what really happened to General Amdrei Vlasov. Stalin reportedly executed Vlasov. However, Vlasov’s philosophy, like Stalin’s, was regal. He wanted a greater Russia.
IMO General Vlasov worked deep cover for Stalin. He was Stalin's agent in China in 1930's. Then in WW2 he organized Russian anti-Communist POW’s in German camps into his Russian National Liberation Army (ROA) clearly exposing them & their identities to Stalin. So IMO after the War, although officially executed by Stalin, Vlasov lived the rest of his life secretly in Soviet Union.

Semyon Bandera, Ukrainian nationalist leader, in contrast, was kalyptic—and thus could not be persuaded to make a deal with Soviets. KGB assassinated him in Germany after WW2.

Any predictions for Russia?
Author:  Date: 2006-11-01 17:55
Hi Carl,
just curious, how did you come to conclusion that Vlasov acted under the Stalin's cover? This is an interesting point of view.
Any predictions for Russia?
Author: Agner Date: 2006-11-02 07:09
Ivan, I don't know if Carl is still around to answer your question.

I think it is time to close this old discussion.