McCain–Sage of Stability

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2 Responses

  1. smhten says:

    Very interesting. So how did we get here, and how do other countries get to a similar place? If Rwanda had had a plethora of beer, sports, ethnic, and regional identities, would things have turned out differently? But of course Rwanda’s a small country, does that matter? Is their ability to diversify the connections their citizens have across divisive boundaries constrained by their small size, both in terms of population and land area? These are just some thoughts that occurred to me while reading your very interesting post. I hope you develop these thoughts further, and that I get to read them.

  2. David Gray says:

    Thanks for this thoughtful response. This is work in progress, so reserve the right to revise and extend, particularly in light of further comments here, but with that caveat, my present view is that size does not matter and that all societies, by definition, have the diversity of oppositions and associations necessary to achieve and maintain dynamic stability.

    On the issue of size, I am wholly in debt to the ethnographers I have been reading, who tend to work in what we might regard as small, insular, and fairly homogenous societies. Even in these societies, a closer look reveals tremendous complexity.

    The idea that the components of dynamic stability are inherent in society comes from a Rousseauvian instinct that a society capable of reaching a point of massive and rapid melt-down by definition was capable of maintaining stability for a good long time. Mass atrocities are precipitated by a rupture and consequent imbalance in that existing dynamic matrix. That task in transition, then, is to reconstitute what was lost rather than to create a new society from whole cloth. Again, the instinct is Rousseauvian: that there is a form of not just government, but social stability constituted by a dynamic civil society that is unique and appropriate to a particular society. Pursuit of stability in transition bent on importing without adaptation a model of society that may have worked elsewhere is quite likely to fail.