Monday, November 28, 2016

Legitimacy of Law Enforcement and Those Who Are Governed

Lynn Rhodes, Chief (Ret) California State Parks; Vice President, International Society for the Comparative Study of Civilizations (ISCSC)

In order to have stable civilization, to govern and be governed there must be a sense of legitimacy and trust by those who are governed. One consideration of use-of-power is not only perceived but actual legitimacy by policing forces. Police authority must have legitimacy and be a compliment to society and in place to protect (society). Increased awareness in the United States, enhanced by the pervasiveness of social media, has illuminated the disparity in which policing is undertaken and the sense of legitimacy by those governed. Police departments nationwide are reacting to impressions or mis-impressions they say are stigmatizing them as out of touch and anti-protection. They are often now characterized as carrying out the law (a judicial role), and prematurely so, as opposed to enforcing the law (fairly and without bias) for public protection and security.

Social order is not possible without a sense of real legitimacy, compliance and cooperation with the laws. For the greater good, society has allowed itself to be policed by consent. In the U.S. this condition is being more openly questioned and challenged.

Factors influencing public trust and the role of policing must be better understood by law enforcement agencies and the public partnership involved. Many agencies are now trying to reframe their roles as guardians as opposed to being known as police. A guardian is an ally, someone that watches, protects and takes appropriate action.  Discretion and trust is fundamental and essential to their role. But making a wholesale transition to an active role as guardian from that of police will not be done quickly. It will require institutionalizing new learning, training and partnerships.

In ancient societies, there was no official law enforcement function and very little, if any, attempt at organization. Instead, individuals, families and clans took it upon themselves to take revenge against those who may have inured or offended them. The idea of crime prevention was almost non-existent in the early history of law enforcement and criminology. Worldwide, civilizations throughout the ages have contributed significantly in the development of criminal justice in society as early as 8000-4000 BC in the middle east, through the rise of the Roman Republic, to Robert Peel’s 9 principles of policing in London, and how we have evolved to the current time.

Legitimacy of policing forces and permission to conduct policing services is an issue front and center for today’s free societies.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

47th ISCSC Conference June 30 to July 3rd 2017

47th ISCSC International Conference
Marconi Conference Center, Marshall, California, U.S.A.
June 30 to July 3rd 2017

Marconi Conference Center is part of the California State Park System located in Marshall, California U.S.A. approximately 90 minutes northwest of San Francisco.
Please see the map on the ISCSC website:
Marconi Conference Center Website:

The 62-acre Marconi Conference Center State Historic Park in scenic West Marin County is located along the east shore of Tomales Bay near the quaint community of Marshall. The location provides dramatic views of the bay and the lush inland hills of the Point Reyes Peninsula.

Rich with the history of the ancient coastal Miwok people, and the 1912 American Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company, the historical significance of the property was recognized with the classification of the facility as a State Historic Park in 1991.

We have a great package for this year’s conference! Conference Registration includes a one-year membership to the ISCSC for new and any renewing members! All lodging and meals for the conference are provided on-site.

Attendees are to make their own conference registration and lodging arrangements directly with the ISCSC before the deadline of April 25, 2017 by using a link which will soon be placed on the ISCSC website.  Lodging fee includes accommodations, all meals, and tax, for all 3 nights.  Rates are the equivalent of: $245 Single; $165 Double or $135 Triple per person, per day. Meals begin with dinner on the arrival date and end with lunch on departure date. Lodging/meal package reservations will be for the entire 3 days.  It will be important to use the on-line link via the ISCSC website to make your room/meal reservation which must be paid in advance. It is part of our conference package and ensures the agreed upon rates. Attempting to make individual reservations through the Marconi Conference Center, even if available, will result in much higher costs to participants and are not part of our conference package and activities.

Registration cost is $275. Conference registration is separate from the lodging and meal package. Conference Registration includes conference attendance, welcome reception on June 30th, invitation to submit abstracts for conference presentation, necessary technical amenities for the presentation and a complimentary year-long membership in the ISCSC with its many benefits of professional affiliation, subscription to the organization’s acclaimed journal, Comparative Civilizations Review, and, last-but-not-least, fun raffle prizes.

Attendees will most likely fly directly to San Francisco International Airport (SFO). From there, transportation to Marconi Conference Center can easily be accomplished via rental car or a shuttle service called Marin Door to Door: or telephone at +1-415-457-2717. Marin Door to Door will take you directly to the Marconi Conference Center for $115 each way. If more than one person is traveling in your group, the second person is only charged $12.00. It is beneficial to book more than one person for the shuttle ride for cost-savings. Booking the shuttle should be done at least 48 hours in advance.

Please visit the ISCSC and Marconi Conference Center for additional trip planning references, local sites of interest, and detailed information about the lodging and dining facilities. If you have any questions, please contact Vice President, Lynn Rhodes, 831-600-5209 or or Executive Director Peter Hecht 917-494-8936 or


Bertil Haggman

National Review on July 26, 2016 published an article on an important book by Nima Sanandaji to be published in August 2016 on the Nordic social system the American left dreams of importing. Excerpts below:
“Debunking Utopia: Exposing the Myth of Nordic Socialism” [is about] the social success of Nordic countries…The social success of Nordic countries pre-dates progressive welfare-state policies. A common misconception is that the Nordic countries became socially and economically successful by introducing universal welfare states funded by high taxes. In fact, their economic and social success had already materialized during a period when these countries combined a small public sector with free-market policies. The welfare state was introduced afterward. That the Nordic countries are so successful is due to an exceptional culture that emphasizes social cohesion, hard work, and individual responsibility.
Today, in contrast, Nordic countries stand out as having high-tax models. Denmark, for example, has the highest tax rate among developed nations. But in 1960, the tax rate in the country was merely 25 percent of GDP, lower than the 27 percent rate in the U.S. at the time. In Sweden, the rate was 29 percent, only slightly higher than in the U.S.
In fact, much of Nordic prosperity evolved between the time that a capitalist model was introduced in this part of the world during the late 19th century and the mid 20th century –during the free-market era.
What might come as a surprise to American admirers of the Nordic countries is that high levels of income equality evolved during the same period. Swedish economists Jesper Roine and Daniel Waldenström, for example, explain that “most of the decrease [in income inequality in Sweden] takes place before the expansion of the welfare state and by 1950 Swedish top income shares were already lower than in other countries.”
…some scholars attribute [the Nordic success] to the Protestant work ethic. It is likely that climate played an equally important role in creating the Nordic success culture. Nordic farmers owned their land but struggled to survive in the unforgiving climate of Scandinavia. In order to thrive, these homogenous societies developed strict work ethics, healthy lifestyles, and a code of individual responsibility out of necessity. To paraphrase the ancient Persian king Cyrus the Great, hard lands breed hard people.
American admirers of Nordic-style social democracy argue that by copying social-democratic policies, the U.S. will copy Nordic social success. But is this true? Hard lands breed hard people.

…the longest average life spans among Nordic peoples are found in Iceland — the small Nordic cousin that has the most distinctly Nordic culture, but also the most limited welfare system. It is equally interesting to look at Nordic Americans, a group that combines the Nordic success culture with U.S.-style capitalism. It was mainly the impoverished people in the Nordic countries who sailed across the Atlantic to found new lives…
Danish Americans today have fully 55 percent higher living standard than Danes. Similarly, Swedish Americans have a 53 percent higher living standard than Swedes. The gap is even greater, 59 percent, between Finnish Americans and Finns. Even though Norwegian Americans lack the oil wealth of Norway, they have a 3 percent higher living standard than their cousins overseas. Perhaps even more astonishing is that Nordic Americans are more socially successful than their cousins in Scandinavia. They have much lower high-school-dropout rates, much lower unemployment rates, and even slightly lower poverty rates.
Currently, Nordic-style democratic socialism is all the rage among Democrat activists as well as with liberal intellectuals and journalists. But in the Nordic countries themselves, this ideal has gradually lost its appeal. Only one of the five Nordic countries, Sweden, currently has a government headed by social democrats. The other four countries have center-right governments. Moreover, the Swedish Social Democrats enjoy weaker popular support today than at any point in modern times. They lead a minority government, as the majority of Swedes either support one of the center-right parties or the anti-immigration party.
During the past few decades, the Nordic countries have gradually been reforming their social systems. Taxes have been cut to stimulate work, public benefits have been limited in order to reduce welfare dependency, pension savings have been partially privatized, for-profit forces have been allowed in the welfare sector, and state monopolies have been opened up to the market. In short, the universal-welfare-state model is being liberalized.
…a closer look shows that these policies are not what explain the success of Nordic societies, and that the Nordic people themselves are becoming less enthusiastic about democratic socialism. Unfortunately, the American Left is more interested in the Nordic myth than a nuanced view of the actual benefits — and drawbacks — of democratic socialism.
Nima Sanandaji is the president of the European Centre for Policy Reform and Entrepreneurship. His latest book, Debunking Utopia: Exposing the Myth of Nordic Socialism [was published in August].

Some Memories of George Von der Muhll

Some Memories of George Von der Muhll

Many decades member of the ISCSC, our dear friend George Von der Muhll passed on this February 8, 2016, of natural causes.  He was beloved by many because of his phenomenal knowledge of civilizations past, present and debatable, and because of his relentlessly positive and erudite advocacy of civilizational perspectives on global problems.

This marks the departure of another Titan of our small and ever aging crew.  The decline of national support for humanities, much less classical studies of civilizations, has dried up the stream of junior faculty who used to replace our Titans when they retired or moved on.

George studied at Oberlin College, the London School of Economics, and Harvard before teaching at Swarthmore College, PA, the University of Chicago, briefly in Ethiopia, in New Zealand (1977-78) and in Uganda from 1965-66 and 1972-73 (before he had to flee with his young family due to dangers posed by then-ruler Idi Amin).  George was a remarkably fearless man for a tiny professor of governments and governance.  But his main academic home became the University of California at Santa Cruz where he taught politics, and rose to become provost of Merrill College at UCSC.  After retirement, he also taught and administered programs at Utrecht, Leiden and Maastricht Universities in the Netherlands from 2000-2002.

George was different from many scholars in that he actually walked on the ground of most of the modern, ancient, large and small civilizations he studied.  He had fairly pronounced scoliosis, so in his later years we would expect him to limp up, bent over with ever new and fascinating stories of his latest adventures in far off places.  To the end he was still planning excursions to near war zones like Egypt, Jordan and Syria.

George was a remarkable example of an ancient, and I fear vanishing kind of scholar.  He was a person filled with wonder at the world and a never ending curiosity about the human condition and how we got there.  And he did not just read books, of which he had thousands, but walked on the ground that books attempt to represent.

George was survived by two sons and his second wife, Lydia Blanchard Von der Muhll, who he had met at a military high school in Germany shortly after WW II.  His dad had been in the OSS and the CIA and her dad was a diplomat in Brussels.  A story fit for a Hollywood movie follows because they did not marry right away, rather decades later and in fact, she ‘stole’ him from another woman, who had been Mayor of Santa Cruz.  That is a private adventure.  But they ended up together in Santa Cruz for most of their latter years.  Lydia first joined our conference in Dublin, Ireland in 1994, came occasionally thereafter, and remains a scholar in her own right.


George and Lydia Von der Muhll in Santa Cruz     Forever 17 and 18 in their Hearts
  July, 2015.

I was very fond of George Von der Muhll.  I will remember him and Lydia forever, so I greatly regret the passing of one of our truly world-class civilizational scholars.  Life is too short to capture all the dimensions of that which George shared with us for at least 30 years.  May our remaining Titans stay as healthy and as filled with wonder as they can be.  The young can still be inspired, even though colleges don’t help them as much as once we did.

Michael Andregg
University of St. Thomas and
University of Minnesota
St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

Some photos from the 46th Annual ISCSC Conference at Monmouth University, New Jersey, USA, June 29-July 1 2016

Some photos from the 46th Annual ISCSC Conference at Monmouth University, New Jersey, USA, June 29-July 1 2016

Dr. David Rosner (past President), Dr. Laina Farhat-Holzman

In his monumental “A Study of History” Dr. Arnold J. Toynbee identifies 23 civilizations that have existed since the beginning of recorded history.

Benjamin Landis

In his monumental “A Study of History” Dr. Arnold J. Toynbee identifies 23 civilizations that have existed since the beginning of recorded history.  The expression “recorded history” itself implies civilization.  Societies and cultures that existed prior to recorded history are deemed uncivilized, pre-civilized.  The 23 civilizations identified by Dr. Toynbee are :
First Generation: Minoan, Shang, Sumeric, Egyptiac, Indus, Mayan, Andean (Inca), Yucatec, and Mexic
Second Generation: Hellenic, Syriac, Sinic, Indic, Hittite, Babylonic
Third Generation: Western, Russian Orthodox, Byzantine Orthodox, Chinese, Far Eastern (Japanese-Korean), Hindu
In addition, Toynbee identifies four cultures that he names “abortive civilizations”: Far Western Christian, Far Eastern Christian, Scandinavian, Syriac
(I apologize to the reader.  I am in France far from my copy of “A Study of History”, so I am relying on Wikipedia for my information.  It is obvious that the Wikipedia author of the entry “A Study of History” is not a careful writer.  He begins his article by listing 19 civilizations identified by Toynbee.  Later in the article (Section 6) he lays out a chart with a heading stating that Toynbee had identified 23 civilizations.  Interestingly, the author shows the Syriac Civilization as one of the 19; he does not show it as one of the 23; he does list it as one of the abortive civilizations.  Furthermore, on the chart of the 23 civilizations there are only 21, unless one counts the Persian and the Arabic as civilizations blending later into the Islamic Civilization.  In my opinion, this is a stretch and to the degree that I remember Toynbee he never suggested  that there existed a Persian and an Arabic Civilization, precursors to the Islamic Civilization.  In any case, these details are not germane to this blog.)
Toynbee also identifies five “arrested civilizations”: Polynesian, Eskimo, Nomads, Ottoman, Spartan
With regard to these “arrested civilizations” Toynbee, in my opinion, is way off the mark.  Except possibly for the Ottoman and the Spartan, the other three come nowhere close to meeting the conditions laid out by Toynbee to become civilizations.  I mention one crucial point: Agriculture is the sine qua non to becoming a civilization.  And not just family agriculture that meets the need of one family group, but agriculture that produces more than one family group needs.  This opens the doors to many of the essential features of a civilization.  I will get into this more thoroughly later.  There was never any possibility that the Polynesians, Eskimos, and Nomads achieve that level of agriculture.  So, they remained primitive societies, trapped by their environments, with no possibility of evolving.
The last volume of Toynbee’s study was published in 1961, five and a half decades ago.  I live in perpetual surprise that no one has thoroughly examined his work, no one has proposed modifications to his concept, no one has corrected any errors he may have made.  The only critique I know was on the minor point of Toynbee having designated Jewry as a fossil society.  I believe that there was one book published criticizing this point of view.  Yet since Toynbee finished his study there have been a number of scholars celebrated for their views and concepts on civilizations: Huntington, Clough, Melko, et al., yet compared to Toynbee their efforts are piecemeal and inconclusive.  If one goes to the home page of the ISCSC and looks into the item “Civilization Defined” one will discover a fairly lengthy “discussion” entitled “Civilizations and Recommendations.”  Reading through this, one discovers that it is not really a “discussion”, but a series of viewpoints and ruminations on civilization.  There is a section entitled “Recommended Readings on Civilization.”  Toynbee’s “A Study of History” is not included.  The various viewpoints emphasize the cultural aspects of a civilization and yet, a civilization’s culture is usually one of the last features of a civilization to be developed.  For example, the essential characteristics of Western Civilization are Nationalism and Christianity.  Western culture, such as we define it today, was developed slowly well after the creation of Western Civilization.  The United States as the last developed part of Western Civilization, as Rome was to Athens in the Hellenic Civilization, has contributed one additional essential characteristic, i. e., Constitutional Democracy.
Later, the participants in the so-called discussion are asked to recommend readings on civilization.  Only two recommend Toynbee.
I do not understand how one can perform a comparative study of civilizations if one does not define the features of a civilization.  I ask any reader of this blog to please explain that to me.
Even though Toynbee stands head and shoulders above any other scholar having published a text or texts on civilization, he was not perfect.  His understanding was sometimes clouded, as is any scholar’s, and sometimes deficient, since what he knew when he wrote has been expanded since he finished.  For example: As an “abortive civilization” a prime candidate would be the Ancient Pueblan culture as manifested at Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon, Hovenweep, etc.
Instead of piece mealing the study of civilization, one should be recommending young scholars to look hard at Toynbee.  Are the civilizations that he identified correct?  Should there be more or less?  Is it legitimate to talk about “abortive” and “arrested” civilizations?  What are the time spans for each of the no longer existing civilizations?  How does one determine when a civilization begins and when it ends?  The Andean (Inca) and Mexic (Aztec) civilizations should be relatively easy to fit into their temporal space, since they were both abruptly ended by Spanish conquest.  But how long did it take for the cultural aspects of these civilizations to be replaced by a Spanish culture?
The members of the “discussion” group have significant problems in determining what a civilization is.  First, with respect to a definition, all one needs to do is go to any worthwhile dictionary and look up the definition.  For example, using Webster’s New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition, ©1999, one finds the definition of a civilization.  There are 6 different definitions proposed.  I believe that definitions 2 and 4 are the most appropriate to this discussion: “2. the condition of being civilized; social organization of a high order, marked by the development and use of a written language and by advances in the arts and sciences, government, etc.  4. The countries and peoples considered to have reached a high stage of  social and cultural development”.  My own definition is: The most advanced and most complex social, political, economic, cultural, and military environment thus far achieved by humankind.
   What is important is that coming up with a universally accepted definition of civilization does not in the least aid the comparative study of civilizations.  A definition categorizes.  That’s all.  What is necessary to do comparative studies is to agree on the features or characteristics of the entities being compared.  The ISCSC has not done this.  Consequently it is not capable of living up to its name.  Yet, the path to a universal understanding of the features of a civilization was laid down more than 70 years ago.  I refer to V. Gordon Childe’s list of the essential characteristics of a civilization.  Not surprisingly, his name is not mentioned by anyone at any time in the “discussion”.
Let me list what Childe considered to be the essential features of a civilization.
1. Large and thickly populated settlements
2. A variety of specialized occupations
3. The ability to store surplus food and other goods
4. Large public buildings
5. A variety and ranking of social positions
6. Writing and a system of notation
7. The beginning of science
8. The development of an important art style
9. Trade over long distances
10. The beginning of social control based on a central government rather than kinship
There is something for a civilizational scholar, who has no preconceived ideas, to sink his teeth into.  Why has Childe been neglected in the field of civilizational studies?  His is the essential work.  Today’s scholars need to go over these 10 features and determine whether they are essential to distinguishing a civilization from the next lower level of social and political organization.  How do Toynbee’s 23 or 21 or 19 civilizations stack up with regard to these characteristics?  Do all of his proposed civilizations meet the standard?  One that comes immediately to mind is the Andean (Inca) Civilization.  It is a good example of the fact that civilizations do not spring full-bodied from the head of Zeus.  When it met its untimely end by Spanish conquest it had not yet developed a system of writing.  However, modern research seems to indicate that it was on the path to develop such a system.
I close, by recalling to the reader’s attention that without agricultural development beyond the family group many of the above characteristics could not, and would not, have developed.