What Caused the Arab Spring?
French social scientist Emmanuel Todd says the rapid increase in (women's) literacy, a falling birthrate and a significant decline in the custom of marriage between first cousins are to thank.
What's the Latest Development?
French social scientist Emmanuel Todd calls himself a "cosine academic". In favoring statistical models over political or ideological explanations, it is not surprising that he links the uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa to very measurable metrics: literacy, birth and marriage rates. In each case he sees a process of modernization that augments individuals' liberties. "When more than 90 percent of young people can read and write and have a modicum of education, no traditional authoritarian regime will last for long."
What's the Big Idea?
In seeking to explain the Arab Spring, idealists have appealed to a pan-Arab desire for democratic ideals while materialists have blamed Arab economies for being highly vulnerable to inflation and recently rising food prices. But Todd sees it another way: "The basic fallacy consists in seeing the ideological or religious crises in the Islamic countries as phenomena of regression. On the contrary, these are crises of a modernization that destabilize the ruling regimes. The fact that the turmoil in the region and the advance of fundamentalism are coinciding is a classic phenomenon."
Could this be the long-awaited solution to economic inequality?
Under capitalism, the argument goes, it's every man for himself. Through the relentless pursuit of self-interest, everyone benefits, as if an invisible hand were guiding each of us toward the common good. Everyone should accordingly try to get as much as they can, not only for their goods but also for their labour. Whatever the market price is is, in turn, what the buyer should pay. Just like the idea that there should be a minimum wage, the idea that there should be a maximum wage seems to undermine the very freedom that the free market is supposed to guarantee.
Humans evolved to live in the cold through a number of environmental and genetic factors.
- According to some relatively new research, many of our early human cousins preceded Homo sapien migrations north by hundreds of thousands or even millions of years.
- Cross-breeding with other ancient hominids gave some subsets of human population the genes to contend and thrive in colder and harsher climates.
- Behavioral and dietary changes also helped humans adapt to cold climates.
It's unlikely that there's anything on the planet that is worth the cost of shipping it back
- In the second season of National Geographic Channel's MARS (premiering tonight, 11/12/18,) privatized miners on the red planet clash with a colony of international scientists
- Privatized mining on both Mars and the Moon is likely to occur in the next century
- The cost of returning mined materials from Space to the Earth will probably be too high to create a self-sustaining industry, but the resources may have other uses at their origin points
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