Not close to consensus but an interesting discussion at Quora.
I'll pass, thanks, but those of you with wanderlust may find this interesting.
I find explanations of differences in culture and in economic systems due to geography potentially very appealing. (Geography, unlike many other factors, can be safely assumed exogenous.) So this hypothesis is quite interesting.
But the author doesn't mention, oddly, the similarity between this idea and Wittfogel's notion of "hydraulic civilizations".
I've thought this for a long time. Still, it's nice to see some energetic support. Matthew Continetti:
Just-so stories, extravagant assertions, heated denunciations, empty gestures, moral posturing that increases in intensity the further removed it is from the truth: If the mainstream narration of our ethnic, social, and cultural life is susceptible to error, it is because liberalism is the prevailing disposition of our institutions of higher education, of our media, of our nonprofit and public sectors, and it is therefore cocooned from skepticism and incredulity and independent thought. Sometimes the truth punctures the bubble. And when that happens—and lately it seems to be happening with increasing frequency—liberalism itself goes on trial.
The closer you are, the less you have to say. A friend loses a grandparent, you say you’re sorry. A friend loses a parent, silence and presence suffices. . . .
But you still want to say something. It’s the human thing to do. If only there were new ways to say it. If only the genuine things you felt didn’t sound as predictable as the Happy Birthday To You song.
Now that the midterms are behind us, let’s have an honest assessment of what’s really happening in our nation’s capital: The federal government’s power is diminishing. Washington is becoming less effective at addressing many of our nation’s problems and less consequential in bolstering the cities and regions that drive the economy.
Question for discussion: does the writer of this New York Times article fully understand the implications of what he's written? Consider:
Over the last two decades, the destabilizing forces of computers and the Internet has spread to even the highest-paid professions. Corporations “were created to coordinate and organize communication among lots of different people,” says Chris Dixon, a partner at the venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. “A lot of those organizations are being replaced by computer networks.” Dixon says that start-ups like Uber and Kickstarter are harbingers of a much larger shift, in which loose groupings of individuals will perform functions that were once the domain of larger corporations. “If you had to know one thing that will explain the next 20 years, that’s the key idea: We are moving toward a period of decentralization,” Dixon says.
So how will a huge, lethargic government centered in DC survive?