Another Cold War Soviet Agent

Monday, August 31st, 2015

For decades, stalwarts of the Left depicted those accused of disloyalty in the McCarthyite era as victims of an American witch-hunt:

One such individual, who until his death made a good living portraying himself in this fashion, was Cedric Belfrage, a British expatriate who lived in the U.S. from the ’40s until 1955.

Belfrage was the founder and editor-in-chief of what was the major fellow-traveling American weekly newspaper, The National Guardian, which was created in 1948 as an adjunct of the presidential campaign of Henry A. Wallace on the Progressive Party ticket. The British subject Belfrage was hauled before both Senator McCarthy’s Senate subcommittee and by HUAC in the 1950s, where he invoked the Fifth Amendment. Eventually, he was arrested and deported back to Britain in 1955.

Belfrage then wrote a few books. Among them was one published by a major American publisher in 1973, The American Inquisition: 1945-1950, in which the author claimed that he too was a victim of vicious false accusations that he was a Soviet agent.

We have known for some years, from both the Venona files and the Vassiliev KGB Notebooks, that in fact Belfrage was working for the KGB.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s Tough Lessons for Liberals

Monday, August 31st, 2015

Daniel Patrick Moynihan provided some tough lessons for liberals:

Today, however, Moynihan towers before us a vanished, much-missed type, the reform-minded traditionalist, “the American Burke,” as Greg Weiner’s new book about him maintains, whose complex ideas weighed “possibility” against “limitation,” and “private pluralism” against “common purpose.” The Washington Post columnist EJ Dionne recently recalled the memory of the “unpolarising Moynihan,” at home in Democratic and Republican administrations alike. But he was not a placatory figure. On the contrary, he lived to polarise and provoke, needed to feel surrounded by critics and carpers, enemies hiding in ambush. His strength was for seeking out the hidden sources of discontent. His weakness was in imagining they lay in wait principally for him.


Unlike so many Kennedy favourites, he wasn’t really a Harvard man — teaching there, later, didn’t count and he didn’t yet have the easy polish and style that Kennedy liked. It was under the next President, Lyndon Johnson, that Moynihan achieved fame, though not in the way he wanted, when he was unmasked as the author of a penetrating, vivid report entitled “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action,” composed in 1965. An “eyes only” memo, written to stir policymakers into action, it became the basis for much of Johnson’s “Great Society” programme to eliminate poverty.

But there was a backlash. Once the report was leaked, the story ceased to be the rescue programmes, but Moynihan’s account of life in the inner-city blighted by the unbreakable rhythms of poverty: unemployment, little or no schooling, low wages (if any at all), children raised in “matriarchal” (fatherless) households and generations trapped in hopelessness, unable to lift themselves up or out. You could read it either as compassion for the wretched of the earth or as a kind of horrified anthropology. Moynihan was accused of blaming the victim. In reply, he reminded critics that the report explicitly pointed to the legacy of slavery. He was right. Those words were there, but they were drowned in the sensational data and the vivid prose. He didn’t coin the phrase “tangle of pathology.” But through Moynihan it entered the language, and in the tense climate of the 1960s seemed less diagnostic than judgemental. Wading so confidently into these question, treating black Americans as if their habits differed from those of whites, Moynihan failed to see, as the sociologist Herbert J Gans observed at the time, that apparently disabling features of inner-city life might actually be “positive adaptations” to exceedingly difficult conditions, ingenious and sophisticated methods of coping. Either way, Moynihan the political visionary was engulfed in an emerging culture war. The Democratic Party was splitting apart, as disagreements that had begun in policy-writing cubicles and the pages of small-circulation journals spilled onto the nation’s campuses and into the streets of its great cities.

Under assault by civil rights activists he thought had been on his side, and by campus activists, Moynihan was thrust into the role of unwitting pioneer, the first of the discredited “white guys,” the lecture-hall moraliser, the tone-deaf “expert” who actually didn’t know what he was talking about, because the truth of American life was known only to those victimised daily by it, in ways no intellectual tourist could ever grasp. Moynihan intemperately fought back, lashing out not only at individual critics but at the legions of “the liberal left” and their indifference to hard facts except “to the extent that they serve as an indictment of American society.”

Conservatives were as bad, he pointed out. They respected data, but self-servingly, “to indict the poor; after that, they lose interest.” But his anger was aimed at those who had stung him, who questioned his good faith and mocked his principles. A lifelong liberal Democrat, he declared war on the “adversary culture” (a phrase borrowed from Lionel Trilling), the complacent inhabitants of “eliteland,” the cultural relativists and nostalgists de la boue he saw all around him: the professors in league with their privileged students, the anti-Vietnam war protestors and community activists, journalists at the Nation — “the new class,” as Moynihan’s friend Irving Kristol, godfather of the neoconservatives, later called it.

Kristol and others fled that world or scorned it. But Moynihan remained in it. He was an old-fashioned liberal, a product of the New Deal who had become a Great Society Democrat This was supposed to be the future and the path to deliverance, and still could be, except no one seemed to believe it any more, including other nations for whom America had once been a beacon. Named Ambassador to the United Nations in 1975, Moynihan became a hero on the right, defending Israel and denouncing Third World monsters like Idi Amin, but he was also labelled a neoconservative jingoist, infected with “paranoia about communism” and “cultural chauvinism.”

The Evolution of Magazine Covers

Sunday, August 30th, 2015

Karen X. Cheng explores the evolution of magazine covers:

Together, these magazine covers reveal a peek into our history. Sure, we’ve gotten more sexualized. More superficial. We read less. We have shorter attention spans.

But we’ve also gotten more open-minded. At each step along the way, society has pushed the limits of what’s considered acceptable.

Cosmo Covers 1937 vs. 2015

We’ve come a long way in 100 years.

In the right direction though?

Whitewashing the Black Panthers

Sunday, August 30th, 2015

A new PBS documentary, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, whitewashes the Black Panther Party and ignores their violent past. It also sidesteps their hardline Communism, Michael Moynihan points out:

It was in the newspaper where “everything came together,” says Ericka Huggins in Vanguard of the Revolution. “It explained who we were, what we were about, what our goals were.” She’s right. If you want to get a sense of the party, one need only thumb through a few back issues of The Black Panther newspaper, scanning editorials signed by “we black revolutionaries who are fighting this racist imperialist faggot honkey,” gasping at the countless images of North Korean dictator Kim Il-Sung and Chinese genocidaire Mao Tse-Tung, or scratching your head at the paeans to demented Albanian Stalinist Enver Hoxha.

So I shouldn’t have been surprised to find that The Black Panther was actually full of glowing references to Josef Stalin. Eldridge Cleaver (“And I’d also like to quote Stalin…”), Panther “chief of staff” David Hilliard (“We think that Stalin was very clear in this concept…”), and Bobby Seale (“Joseph Stalin said one time that our best weapon…”) were all fond of citing him. And Seale was complimenting his comrades when he observed that “our party can see Lenin and Stalin when we want to understand Huey and Eldridge.” Hilliard kept a photo of Stalin on display in his office, believing that tales of Stalinist mass murder were bourgeois propaganda. “The reason that they fear Joseph Stalin is because of the distorted facts that they have gained through the Western press,” he told an interviewer. Chairman Elaine Brown clarified that the Black Panther Party was “not opposed to Stalin.”

Again, none of this mentioned by Nelson. Nor is the group’s frightening obsession with North Korea’s uniquely demented brand of Stalinism (“The Korean people and their great leader Comrade Kim II Sung” are “a nation of Newtons, tough brothers, off the block who once built a mountainous barbecue which imperialism called Heartbreak Ridge!”). Interviewee Kathleen Cleaver isn’t asked by Nelson about her pilgrimages to Pyongyang, or why she chose to give birth to her daughter Joju Younghi — a name chosen for her by Kim Il-Sung’s wife — in North Korea. Nor is she asked about credible accusations that when Eldridge Cleaver returned from his first trip to North Korea he shot and killed a Panther he believed to be Kathleen’s lover (When asked, Eldridge wouldn’t deny killing his romantic rival; and in 2001 former Panther fugitive and Cleaver confidante Byron Vaughn Booth confessed to having witnessed the murder.)

Crash Course in Manhood

Saturday, August 29th, 2015

Point and Shoot tells the odd story of an odd young man — timid, obsessive-compulsive, 26-year-old Matt VanDyke — who left his Baltimore home in 2006 for a crash course in manhood:

Space Conquerors

Saturday, August 29th, 2015

Henry Kujawa first encountered Al Stenzel’s Space Conquerors comic strip in Boys’ Life in 1968, soon after he’d joined the cub scouts, but the series had started back in 1952:

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It was a simpler time. By 1954 the stories became a bit harder, scientifically speaking.

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Nothing like us ever happened before

Friday, August 28th, 2015

What’s worth saving about “the West,” Adam Gopnik claims, is the moral achievements that have flowed from it:

The emancipation of women and their integration on equal terms in education, the granting of civil rights to homosexuals, the removal, at least formally, of racial discrimination — these are not a common feature of prosperous or declining empires but unique moral achievements of this one. There’s no pattern in history to compare us to, because nothing like us ever happened before.

Really? That passage immediately called to mind Sir John Glubb’s description of the Arab decline:

The works of the contemporary historians of Baghdad in the early tenth century are still available. They deeply deplored the degeneracy of the times in which they lived, emphasising particularly the indifference to religion, the increasing materialism and the laxity of sexual morals. They lamented also the corruption of the officials of the government and the fact that politicians always seemed to amass large fortunes while they were in office.

The historians commented bitterly on the extraordinary influence acquired by popular singers over young people, resulting in a decline in sexual morality. The ‘pop’ singers of Baghdad accompanied their erotic songs on the lute, an instrument resembling the modern guitar. In the second half of the tenth century, as a result, much obscene sexual language came increasingly into use, such as would not have been tolerated in an earlier age. Several khalifs issued orders banning ‘pop’ singers from the capital, but within a few years they always returned.

An increase in the influence of women in public life has often been associated with national decline. The later Romans complained that, although Rome ruled the world, women ruled Rome. In the tenth century, a similar tendency was observable in the Arab Empire, the women demanding admission to the professions hitherto monopolised by men. ‘What,’ wrote the contemporary historian, Ibn Bessam, ‘have the professions of clerk, tax-collector or preacher to do with women? These occupations have always been limited to men alone.’ Many women practised law, while others obtained posts as university professors. There was an agitation for the appointment of female judges, which, however, does not appear to have succeeded.

Soon after this period, government and public order collapsed, and foreign invaders overran the country. The resulting increase in confusion and violence made it unsafe for women to move unescorted in the streets, with the result that this feminist movement collapsed.

New Amsterdam Reload

Friday, August 28th, 2015

Pirates really were bristling with weapons, as the St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum explains:

To survive battles in close quarters, pirates had to be walking arsenals. Pistols took time to reload, so most pirates carried more than one. Blackbeard carried six in addition to a cutlass and a dagger.

Jim Cirillo would approve of the New Amsterdam Reload.

The Decline of the West

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

Declinism is apparently in decline, according to Adam Gopnik:

The great summit of declinism — the peak from which all subsequent declinism has declined — was established in 1918, in the book that gave decline its good name in publishing: the German historian Oswald Spengler’s best-selling, thousand-page work “The Decline of the West.” Spengler has by now been reduced to an adjective; news-magazine writers back in the nineteen-seventies always used to refer to Henry Kissinger as “Spenglerian,” meaning farsighted in his pessimism and trying to manage the decline of liberalism in the face of the inexorable spread of totalitarian societies. Yet Spengler turns out to be a more idiosyncratic writer than his reputation suggests. A German pedant whom other German pedants found too humorless, but who lived long enough to flirt with the Nazis and resist them, he wasn’t so much “pessimistic” as biological in his approach. His thesis was that each culture-civilization has its own organic pattern of development, and none can escape its foreordained cycle of growth, blossoming, and wilting, any more than a single rose can. We don’t fall, as empires are supposed to, from sin; we wilt, as flowers do, from sun and time alone.

Spengler struggled to reconcile two truths: first, that all art tends to follow a path from initial strivings to perfect utterance and on to ornamental luxuriance, whether the move is from eighth-century-B.C. geometric art to Hellenistic twistings, or from Bach to Berlioz, or, I suppose, from “Love Me Do” to “The Long and Winding Road.” And yet things from the same cultural epoch, however much they alter in outward form, always resemble one another more than they resemble other, exterior things that they may be imitating. A 1907 Picasso looks more like a Rembrandt portrait than like an African mask — its concern is likeness and the individual, not the spirit and the ritual. The Beatles sound like the Beatles, no matter how many sitars they strum.

Spengler reconciles the two by saying that all civilizations share the same seasons but have different seeds. There have been three distinct seedbeds within Western civilization, each with a set of forms and themes unique to it: the Classical, the Magian (meaning, essentially, early Christian and Byzantine, under the influence of the Near East), and our own, “Faustian” moment. The Classical was linear, with lines drawn around verse forms and atoms alike; Magian culture is mysterious and glittering, like its Magi; ours is, above all, spatial, with atmospheric perspective in our paintings and sea voyages of discovery in our dreams. Spengler has a long reach: there are comparative sections on Chinese and Islamic civilizations; “Pythagoras, Mohammed, Cromwell” is a typical chapter heading. But his main point is that the “West” whose decline we may fret over — the West that conquered the Aztecs and discovered science and built empires and made democracy — is already so far fallen as to be hardly worth mourning. We peaked sometime around 1300, with Chartres and then Giotto, and it’s been straight downhill to cosmopolitan cities and Old Masters and democracy ever since. Spengler has particular contempt for the idea that civilizations compete, a view that he sees as crudely “Darwinian” and “Materialist.” Cultures coexist, and go to hell in their own ways; “civilization” is just the name we give to the decline.

Like all big system-makers, Spengler is most interesting when he is least systematic, in the cracks in his system. He makes the sharp observation that in times of cultural fullness high stories and low dramas coincide; the plots of “King Lear” and “Macbeth,” like those of the Iliad, could be played in a village or a court. He also shrewdly notes that classical civilization, despite its mystery cults, assumed that the essentials of its world picture and logic were available to any educated citizen; in our Faustian culture, despite its “democratic” pretenses, these things are accessible only to a small body of experts. Democritus’ atomism was argued in the agora, whereas atomic theory is understood by a handful of physicists; everyone had an opinion on Praxiteles, but you master a code to crack Picasso. Spengler is also eerily prescient at times, predicting that a new style of “meaningless, empty, artificial, pretentious architecture,” heavy on ornament and historical reference, and filled with “imitation of archaic and exotic motives,” would appear in Europe and America around the year 2000. He was off by only a couple of decades.

But Spengler’s real superiority over this century’s declinists is that he isn’t writing public policy, just watching the wheels go round and looking for patterns in the roll. What Spengler contributed to history was not pessimism but a form of relativism — the insistence that each culture should be respected as a whole and not viewed as a debased version of another. Kissinger was truly “Spenglerian” not in the belief that all one could do was manage American decline but in the belief that each nation would have to find its own road to, and through, modernity — that Chinese democracy would be more Confucian than Jeffersonian, and that freedom in Russia would look more Russian than free.

Today’s declinists have absorbed Spengler, if mostly in unconscious ways. First, there’s his insistence on seeing one’s culture decline in terms of similar patterns elsewhere. This isn’t a self-evident idea; Gibbon, as he charts the fall of the Roman Empire, barely glances at the contemporaneous Persian one. And then there’s Spengler’s rule-seeking abstraction. After Spengler, it isn’t enough to say that the past two decades have been rough in Japan, or that the recession has been hard on Americans, or that the war in Iraq was a folly; the mistakes and the follies have to be shown to be part of some big, hitherto invisible pattern of decline — and made more vivid by contrast with the patterns of some other, as yet undeclined society. The simpler, saner idea that things were good and now they’re bad, and that they could get either better or worse, depending on what happens next, gets dismissed as intellectually disreputable. His imprint is left in the idea that a big wheel must be turning in the night sky of history, and only the author of the book has managed to notice it.

Why not regulate guns like cars?

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

Why can’t guns be regulated like cars?

Cars are basically regulated as follows (I rely below on California law, but to my knowledge the rules are similar throughout the country):

(1) No federal licensing or registration of car owners.

(2) Any person may use a car on his own private property without any license or registration. See, e.g., California Vehicle Code §§ 360, 12500 (driver’s license required for driving on “highways,” defined as places that are “publicly maintained and open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel”); California Vehicle Code § 4000 (same as to registration).

(3) Any adult — and in most states, 16- and 17-year-olds, as well — may get a license to use a car in public places by passing a fairly simple test that virtually everyone can pass.

(4) You can lose your license for proved misuse of the car, but not for most other misconduct; and even if you lose your driver’s license, you can usually regain it some time later.

(5) Your license from one state is good throughout the country.

This is pretty much how many gun rights advocates would like to see guns regulated, and is in fact pretty close to the dominant model in the over 40 states that now allow pretty much any law-abiding adult to get a license to carry a concealed weapon: No need to register or get a license to have a gun at home, and a simple, routine test through which any law-abiding citizen can get a state license to carry a gun in public.

Will China Take Siberia away from Russia?

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

Will China take Siberia away from Russia? No, Peter Turchin argues:

Do you remember a chapter in Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel, entitled “Spacious Skies and Tilted Axes”? (If you haven’t read the book, I strongly recommend it — it’s Diamond’s best one). In this chapter, Jared argues that crops and domestic animals spread more easily within the same “biomes” — macro-ecological zones characterized by similar climates and soil types. Because biomes tend to stretch along East-West axes, cultivars (and other cultural elements) diffuse more easily East and West, rather than North and South.

When I read this chapter, I remember wondering, what about the territorial expansion of states? Shouldn’t they also find it easier to expand into a similar ecological zone? Teaming up with Jon Adams and Tom Hall we analyzed the shapes of historical mega-empires. We found that, indeed, there was a very strong statistical tendency to expand along the East-West axis. The only exceptions to this pattern, such as Egypt and Inca, actually conformed to the more general rule — it just happens that, in their regions, biomes were stretched in the North-South direction.

What does it tell us about China? If you look at the historical atlas of China, you will see that China easily expanded East and West, more slowly South, and there was essentially no expansion towards the North. Chinese empires since the Shang originated in the North and unified territories in all directions except the North. The only reason Manchuria (to the North of Beijing) is now part of China is because it was Manchuria that conquered China, not the other way around.

So the countries that should be most afraid of China are those that inhabit similar ecological zones. That would be Korea (well, North Korea is already essentially a vassal of China) and Vietnam, which has the same ecology as southern China. In fact, Vietnam (unlike Siberia) has been part of China on two previous occasions. And there are very substantial tensions between the two countries (unlike the Chinese-Russian relations).

Decline, Fall, Rinse, Repeat

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015

Adam Gopnik mocks Declinism:

What makes the bad days come? Why do we fall, and who calls us back, if anything can? Decline has the same fascination for historians that love has for lyric poets. Yet the coming catastrophe is always coming, and never quite getting here, so the first job the new declinist book has to do is explain why the previous declinist books were wrong. The population bomb that didn’t go boom! is an anchor tied to the ankle of the global warmers, while people who want to set up China as the new Yellow Peril are obliged to explain why the Rising Sun stopped rising. What’s more, since the intellectual predecessors of the declinist are all declinists, too, he has to grapple with the tricky point of insisting that the previous era was actually a peak rather than the valley that the previous declinists thought they were looking at.

With empires, as with rock bands, the most popular explanations of decline involve long-dormant disputes and frictions that came to life, or, more simply, a sinister force from Asia that brought the thing down and broke it up. At the same time, declinism can’t decline to the end. Although the forces of decline need to be ominously arrayed in tables and vectors, the author is expected to rally in the last chapter to explain the one way to reverse the otherwise irreversible: world government, national industrial policy, a third party, kindergarten education in Esperanto, or whatever. Everything has to be as inevitable as falling off a roof, and yet there has to be a chance for someone falling to suddenly fly. Declinism is, in other words, a genre as much as it is any set of claims.

Trump Makes Univision do the Perp Walk

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015

Scott Adams (Dilbert) deems Trump a magnificent bastard for making his Mexicano enemy do the perp walk on International TV while appearing 100% in charge of the situation:

And do you know what his core supporters saw? They saw Trump deport that Mexican reporter right out of the room, metaphorically. Those other candidates are talking about immigration but Trump has already started. Remember we are not talking about anyone’s rational thinking. These sorts of images sneak through your rational defenses.

And Trump sent a message to the rest of the press, which helps to keep them nervous during future interviews. That’s how a world-class negotiator does it. He makes the other person less confident. Throws them off their game. And apparently he decided some collateral damage in the press would delight the viewers. I know I appreciated it.

And on some level every person watching that episode was happy they did not have to endure another round of gotcha outragism as one “news” outlet after another rushes to take Trump’s words out of context. Trump’s show was far more entertaining.

Ruminating vs. Problem-Solving

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015

We may be training the next generation to be unhappy anti-Stoics, Lukanioff and Haidt argue, because the modern fashion for spotting microaggressions and demanding trigger warnings amounts to negative cognitive behavioral training.

Negative repetitive thinking is linked to depression, anxiety, substance abuse and eating disorders:

Rumination has been found to predict both the onset of depression as well as the continuation of it in a number of studies. In the lab, participants’ symptoms worsen when they are asked or taught to ruminate, according to Ed Watkins, a professor of experimental and applied clinical psychology at the University of Exeter, who has conducted some of the studies.


In addition, researchers have found that the more one dwells on problems in an unhelpful way, the more one gets locked into the pattern, until even small triggers can spark a cycle automatically.


Dr. Watkins and his team at the University of Exeter have found that there are helpful ways to dwell on difficulties, such as to think concretely about a situation and focus on sensory details, how it happened and how to do it differently next time. In contrast, people who engage in unhelpful, depressive or stressful rumination tend to focus on the issue more negatively, globally and abstractly. They often focus on “why” questions such as “Why does this always happen? Why do I always do this?”

In one study, Dr. Watkins trained ruminators and depressed people to think more concretely by giving them daily mental exercises that focused on solving the problem. After one week, they saw significant decreases in self-reported rumination and depression relative to the placebo control group. Later they found similar effects on patients with major depression.


Beyond cognitive retraining, two other techniques can be helpful, experts say — mindfulness, in which people learn to observe but not judge or evaluate themselves, and cognitive behavioral therapy. In the latter, people are taught to evaluate how likely it is that their worry will actually happen, and to reinterpret situations in a more positive way. They learn to problem-solve rather than ruminate, according to Nilly Mor, a professor in the school of education at Hebrew University who studies rumination.

Ruling Classes that Lead Dangerous Warrior Lives

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

A successful Malthusian society that manages to form a middle class still needs to mobilize that middle class, Brad DeLong argues, to aid the aristocracy in overwhelming neighbors’ aristocracies:

Think about this, and you will recognize that an aristocracy faces the same Malthusian pressures and dilemmas as does the population as a whole. The population, the demos, lives off the limited resources provided by the land. The aristocracy, the aristoi, live off the wedge between what the demos produce and what they consume. If the aristoi do not find social mechanisms to constrain their numbers, their standard of living will also tend to settle at a point so low that their numbers no longer grow at all rapidly. And the social mechanisms to keep the population growth rate of the aristoi down are the same — and the patriarchal mechanisms of female infanticide, prolonged female virginity, and substantial permanent female celibacy, plus in the case of the aristoi excess male deaths in war, in the duel, or in the hunt. The alternative is to wind up with a very large “upper class” indeed, one made up of huge numbers of princes — but princes who live little better than peasants, a la Armenia or La Mancha.

But there is an additional constraint on the aristoi. A single faction of aristoi controlling an agrarian territory also faces an interesting Laffer curve problem — perhaps the only real-life Laffer curve problem. Tax rates too low leave them with too few resources vis-a-vis neighboring aristocracies. Tax rates too high leave them with too-low a population base. If extent of territory is too small they get absorbed. If extend of territory is too large they suffer rebellion and fraction. Moreover, the tax collectors have to be efficient enough and the soldiers competent enough that the phalanx or whatever is large enough and skilled enough on the battlefield — which means that the upper classes live not in attractive luxury but, rather, “return with your shield or on it”, and there is a premium on figuring out how to attach the middle class to the aristoi to fill out the battle line — to acquire and maintain what Ibn Khaldun called assibiyah, which is difficult because the middle class’s share of the benefits from rule by the current dominant group is not all that large. Add in balance-of-power considerations and the natural diffusion of technology and organization thus lead us to expect to see an agrarian world dominated by ruling classes that lead dangerous warrior lives, mistreat women, and govern moderately-sized principalities in semi-stable military-political equilibrium with each other. True “empires” should be rare, and evanescent. Think Timur-i-Leng, Ashoka, or even Charlemagne.